Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 155–170 | Cite as

“Even Heroes Get Depressed”: Sponsorship and Self-Stigma in Canada’s Mental Illness Awareness Week

  • Loren GaudetEmail author


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.


Anti-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 “RE: [mhainfo] "Only Human" 1971 Film” Unpublished Personal Correspondence with author.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.


  1. Auslander, Leora. 2005. “Beyond Words.” The American Historical Review 110(4): 1015–1045. Scholar
  2. Becker, Howard. 1963. Outsiders. New York: Free Press, Macmillan Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  3. Blundell, Valda. 1994. “The Tourist and the Native.” In A Different Drummer: Readings in Anthropology with a Canadian Perspective, edited by B. A. Cox, J. Chevalier, and V. Blundell, 49-60. Ottawa: Carleton University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Burstyn, Varda. 1999. The Rites of Men: Manhood, Politics, and the Culture of Sport.” Toronto: University of Toronto Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Canadian Newswire. 2007. “Dr. Wilbert Keon to receive the CMA’s Highest Honour.” August 15. Accessed 27 June 2013.
  6. Canadian Psychiatric Association. 1992a. “Canadian Psychiatric Association Bulletin.” Bulletin 24 (5): 2.Google Scholar
  7. Canadian Psychiatric Association. 1992b. “Mental Illness Awareness Week – Income and Expenses.” Mental Illness Awareness Week Report. Canadian Psychiatric Association Archive, Ottawa, Canada.Google Scholar
  8. Canadian Psychiatric Association. 1992c. Public Service Announcement. VHS. Canadian Psychiatric Association Archives, Ottawa, Canada.Google Scholar
  9. Canadian Psychiatric Association. 1992d. “Membership: MIAW Steering Committee.” Mental Illness Awareness Week Report. Canadian Psychiatric Association Archive, Ottawa, Canada.Google Scholar
  10. Canadian Psychiatric Association. 2003. Executive Committee Teleconference Meeting. Box 1, Unnamed Brown Folder. Canadian Psychiatric Association Archives, Ottawa, Canada: 5.Google Scholar
  11. Canadian Psychiatric Association. n.d. “Anxiety, Depression, and Manic Depression.” Canadian Psychiatric Association Archives, Ottawa, Canada.Google Scholar
  12. Chan, Jenny., Winnie Mak, and Lawrence Law. 2009. “Combining Education and Video-based Contact to Reduce Stigma of Mental Illness: ‘The Same or Not the Same’ Anti-stigma Program for Secondary Schools in Hong Kong.” Social Science & Medicine 68 (8): 1521-1526. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clarke, Adele. 1991. “Social Worlds/Arenas Theory as Organizational Theory.” In Social Organization and Social Process: Essays in Honor of Anselm Strauss, edited by Anselm Strauss and David R. Maines, 119-158. New York: Aldine De Gruyter.Google Scholar
  14. -----. 2005. Situational Analysis: Grounded Theory after the Postmodern Turn. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publishing.Google Scholar
  15. “Clarke Study of Flesinoxan.” 1991. Bulletin 23 (3): 19.Google Scholar
  16. Crocker, Jennifer and Brenda Major. 1989. “Sociological Stigma and Self-Esteem: The Self-Protective Properties of Stigma.” Psychological Review 96 (4): 608-630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cummings, Janet, Stephen Lucas and Benjamin Druss. 2013. “Addressing Public Stigma and Disparities among Persons with Mental Illness: The Role of Federal Policy.” American Journal of Public Health 103 (5): e1-e5. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Daston, Lorraine and Peter Galison. 2007. Objectivity. New York: Zone Books.Google Scholar
  19. Dumit, Joseph. 2004. Picturing Personhood: Brain Scans and Biomedical Identity. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  20. -----. 2012. Drugs for Life: How Pharmaceutical Companies Define Our Health. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Economou, M., E. Louki, L.E. Peppou, E. Gramandani, L. Yotis, and C.N. Stefanis. 2012. “Fighting Psychiatric Stigma in the Classroom: The Impact of an Educational Intervention on Secondary School Students’ Attitudes to Schizophrenia.” International Journal of Social Psychiatry 58 (5): 544-581. Scholar
  22. Gieryn, Thomas F. 2006. “City as Truth-Spot: Laboratories and Field-Sites in Urban Studies.” Social Studies of Science 36 (1): 5-38. Scholar
  23. Goffman, Erving. 1961. Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. New York: Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  24. -----. 1963. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc.Google Scholar
  25. Hannem, Stacey. 2012. “Theorizing Stigma and the Politics of Resistance: Symbolic and Structural Stigma in Everyday Life.” In Stigma Revisited: Implications of the Mark, edited by Stacey Hannem and Chris Bruckert, 10-28. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press.Google Scholar
  26. Harper, Stephen. 2005. “Media, Madness and Misrepresentation: Critical Reflections on Anti-Stigma Discourse.” European Journal of Communication 20 (4): 460-483. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Herek, Gregory M. 2007. “Confronting Sexual Stigma and Prejudice: Theory and Practice.” Journal of Social Issues 63 (4): 905-925. Scholar
  28. Jackson, Michael. 1991. “Black or White.” Dangerous. Epic Records. J. Landis, dir. MTV. 14 November.Google Scholar
  29. “Jordan Heads Mental Health Group.” 1972. Star-News. Wilmington, N.C; November 19: 9. Accessed 17 June 2013.,6560255&dq=only-human+mental+health&hl=en.
  30. Kleinman, Arthur, and Rachel Hall Clifford. 2009. “Stigma: A Social, Cultural and Moral Process.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 63 (6): 418-419. Scholar
  31. Livingstone, David. 2003. Putting Science In Its Place: Geographies of Scientific Knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Luckstead, Alicia and Amy L. Drapalski. 2015. “Self-Stigma regarding Mental Illness: Definition, Impact, and Relationship to Societal Stigma.” Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal 38 (2): 99-102. Scholar
  33. MacRae, Donald K. 1991. “Letter to the Editor: A Fond Farewell.” Bulletin 23 (3): 5.Google Scholar
  34. Marshall, Barbara L. 2009. “Sexual Medicine, Sexual Bodies and the ‘Pharmaceutical Imagination.’” Science as Culture 18 (2): 133-149. Scholar
  35. Martin, Emily. 2007. Bipolar Expeditions: Mania and Depression in American Culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mental Health Commission of Canada. 2012. “The Facts.” Mental Health Strategy. Accessed 28 June 2013.
  37. Mental Health Minute. 2012. “Hockey and Depression.” Accessed 31 May 2013.
  38. Murphy, Michelle. 2006. Sick Building Syndrome and the Problem of Uncertainty. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. “Only Human is New Color Film on Mental Health.” 1972. The Hinton News. Hinton, West Virginia, July 6: p 2. Accessed 17 June 2013.,1858740&hl=en.
  40. ‘Only Human’ Slated on WWNY Television.” 1972. Courier and Freeman. May 17. Accessed 4 August 2017.
  41. Ontario Psychiatric Association. 1990. “A Contribution to the Dialogue on Mental Health for Canadians: Striking a Balance.” Bulletin 22 (4): 4.Google Scholar
  42. Pankratz, W. 1992. “Letter to Colleague.” Mental Illness Awareness Week Report. 11 May. Canadian Psychiatric Association Archive, Ottawa: Canada.Google Scholar
  43. Prown, J. D. 1982. “Mind in Matter: An Introduction to Material Culture Theory and Method.” Winterthur Portfolio 17 (1): 1-19. Scholar
  44. “Public Announcement on Fluoxetine.” 1991. Bulletin 23 (6): 11.Google Scholar
  45. Rae-Grant, Dr. Quentin. 1990. “Maldistribution of Psychiatric Manpower.” Bulletin 22 (4): 12.Google Scholar
  46. Ritsher, Jennifer Boyd, Poorni G. Otilingam, and Monica Grajales. 2003. “Internalized Stigma of Mental Illness: Psychometric Properties of a New Measure.” Psychiatry Research 121 (1): 31-49. Scholar
  47. Ritsher, Jennifer Boyd, and Jo C. Phelan. 2004. “Internalized Stigma Predicts Erosion of Morale among Psychiatric Outpatients.” Psychiatry Research 129 (3): 257-265. Scholar
  48. Roberts, Charlie. 1990. “The History of the CPA.” Bulletin 22 (4): 6-10.Google Scholar
  49. Rose, Nikolas. 2007. The Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. -----. 2010. “‘Screen and Intervene’: Governing Risky Brains.” History of the Human Sciences 23 (1): 79-105.
  51. Sadowsky, Jonathan. 2006. “Beyond the Metaphor of the Pendulum: Electroconvulsive Therapy, Psychoanalysis, and the Styles of American Psychiatry.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 61 (1): 1-25. Scholar
  52. Scrambler, Graham and Anthony Hopkins. 1986. “Being Epileptic: Coming to Terms with Stigma.” Sociology of Health and Illness 8 (1): 26-43. Scholar
  53. Sismondo, Sergio. 2007. “Ghost Management: How Much of the Medical Literature Is Shaped Behind the Scenes by the Pharmaceutical Industry?” PLoS Medicine, 4 (9): e286.
  54. Smith, Rachel. 2007. “Language of the Lost: An Explication of Stigma Communication.” Communication Theory 17 (4): 462-485. Scholar
  55. Swan, Carol. 1991. “Survey Results show Association’s Strengths and Weaknesses.” Bulletin 23 (6): 7-9.Google Scholar
  56. “The Insurance Industry and Mental Health Care.” 1991. Bulletin 22 (3): 11.Google Scholar
  57. Wahl, Otto. 1995. Media Madness: Public Images of Mental Illness. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Department of EnglishUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

Personalised recommendations