New Position at Queen’s Focused on Fighting Stigma of Mental Health

The stigma of mental health issues is increasingly under attack, thanks in part to an announcement earlier this month by Bell Canada and Queen’s University in Kingston, ON: The creation of the Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair.

This position is a $1-million initiative created to focus on the stigma around mental illness. It is the first of its kind in the world, and could lead to higher quality of life for people facing a mental health issue.

Reducing stigma can improve results

Mental illness impacts millions of Canadians at some point during their lifetime, but stigma often prevents people from getting help.

“When individuals are freed from the shame of mental illness, they will step forward and seek treatment,“ said Jeffrey Waplak, Clinical Director for Stevenson, Waplak & Associates. “When people acknowledge their symptoms and get treatment in the early stages, we know they have better outcomes.”

Waplak notes that new research may also help pinpoint activities that could lead to greater awareness of mental health issues and perhaps increased funding — something that is badly needed with our current economy.

“It is vital that we end the stigma for men and women, regardless of age or social class. Mental illness shows no preference across our community or friends, and help needs to be available.”

Position held by world-renowned researcher

Heather Stuart, PhD, will serve as the first research chair; she is an internationally-renowned professor of Community Health & Epidemiology at Queen’s who has focused much of her work on stigma reduction.

Stuart is currently working on a number of projects, including a collaboration with Statistics Canada to incorporate a stigma assessment module in future national health surveys.

This is the latest investment by Bell Canada, part of a $50-million commitment to mental health in Canada that included the annual “Bell Let’s Talk Day” fundraiser on Feb. 8. For more information about the research position, read the full related news release.