Thursday, May 29, 2014

A little about my research...

You would rather kill yourself than seek mental health treatment?
Taking calls on the Suicide Prevention Hotline I asked myself this question dozens of times. What's going on here?
Stigma. Stigma against mental illness and psychological help-seeking. 
And I'm going to fight it. 
The stigma of mental illness is one of the most powerful and pervasive stigmas that exists today (Bathje & Pryor, 2011). I once stood at a bus station when a man with schizophrenia hobbled up. People backed away in open fear and disgust. Against what other group of people do you see such blatant discrimination?
The same stigma that literally keeps people from seeking treatment that could drastically improve or, in some cases save lives. 
I will be going to Israel this summer to work with working mental illness stigma researchers and advocates. My research is focusing in on the way this stigma shows up in religious communities - an area that has had exceptionally little research. The researchers in Israel have already made progress in this and other areas of mental health stigma. I will be able to work with them to learn what they know and to collaborate in future research to uncover and combat this stigma.   
My long term goal is to apply my research to systematically combat stigma in communities and help them understand what they can do to help, instead of hurt, those with mental illness.

To check out what's going on with my trip to Israel, check out my new blog: