“Even Heroes Get Depressed”: Sponsorship and Self-Stigma in Canada’s Mental Illness Awareness Week
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In 1992, the Canadian Psychiatric Association launched Canada’s first national campaign against mental illness, Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). I stress that pharmaceutical sponsorship of the first five years of MIAW (1992-1997) was integral to shaping the trajectory of the campaign and marks a shift in the way stigma is conceived and resisted in Canada: what was an interpersonal process based on social norms becomes refigured as “self-stigma,” or an individualized process in which lack of information, education, and self-assessment contribute to an inability to consider oneself as at-risk for a disease, condition, or disorder.
KeywordsAnti-stigma Pharmaceuticals Mental Illness Awareness Week Citizenship Mental illness
1 As part of my research, I visited the Canadian Psychiatric Association in Ottawa, Canada. This is an archival source from the Canadian Psychiatric Association: Executive Committee Teleconference Meeting in Box 1, Unnamed Brown Folder, 2003, p. 5.
2 This is another archival source from the Canadian Psychiatric Association: Canadian Psychiatric Association. “Mental Illness Awareness Week – Income and Expenses” Mental Illness Awareness Week Report. Ottawa, Canada: 1992.
3 Unfortunately, MHA has not digitized their anti-stigma media and does not possess a copy of this film, nor do they know where to find one. From, Taylor Rhodes,. “RE: [mhainfo] "Only Human" 1971 Film” Unpublished Personal Correspondence with author. May 21, 2013.
4 Jonathan Sadowsky (2006) has highlighted the dangers of representing the tensions between somatic and psychological approaches as a pendulum, “swinging back and forth between two poles” (5). While not an incorrect metaphor, it is incomplete and grossly simplifies the complex interactions and translations between the two. However, due to space constraints, I employ this incomplete metaphor while recognizing its shortcomings.
5 It is important to note that the Mental Health Commission of Canada has recently (2009) undertaken an anti-stigma campaign, “Opening Minds,” whose target audiences include health care providers, workplaces, and homes. This campaign relies on a social understanding of stigma, shifting blame away from the individual to systemic factors, this shows the multiple and various ways in which stigma has and continues to be mobilized as a rhetorical strategy. https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/initiatives-and-projects/opening-minds.
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