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EPA guidance on how to improve the image of psychiatry and of the psychiatrist

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 April 2020

D. Bhugra*
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK
N. Sartorius
Association for the Improvement of Mental Health Programmes (AMH), Geneva, Switzerland
A. Fiorillo
Department of Psychiatry, University of Naples, Naples, Italy
S. Evans-Lacko
Department of Health Service and Population Research, King's College, London, UK
A. Ventriglio
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy
M.H.M. Hermans
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Fortuinstraat, Mechelen, Belgium
P. Vallon
Swiss Society of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Geneva, Switzerland
J. Dales
University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
G. Racetovic
Centar za Mentalino Zdravlje, Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina
J. Samochowiec
Department of Psychiatry, Pomeranian Medical University, Poland
M. Roca Bennemar
University of Balearic Islands, Spain
T. Becker
Department of Psychiatry II,Ulm University,Bezirkskrankenhaus, Günzburg, Germany
T. Kurimay
Institute of Behaviour Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
W. Gaebel
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany
*Corresponding author at: King's College of London, Institute of Psychiatry, IDe Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, United kingdom. E-mail (D. Bhugra).
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Stigma against mental illness and the mentally ill is well known. However, stigma against psychiatrists and mental health professionals is known but not discussed widely. Public attitudes and also those of other professionals affect recruitment into psychiatry and mental health services. The reasons for this discriminatory attitude are many and often not dissimilar to those held against mentally ill individuals. In this Guidance paper we present some of the factors affecting the image of psychiatry and psychiatrists which is perceived by the public at large. We look at the portrayal of psychiatry, psychiatrists in the media and literature which may affect attitudes. We also explore potential causes and explanations and propose some strategies in dealing with negative attitudes. Reduction in negative attitudes will improve recruitment and retention in psychiatry. We recommend that national psychiatric societies and other stakeholders, including patients, their families and carers, have a major and significant role to play in dealing with stigma, discrimination and prejudice against psychiatry and psychiatrists.

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Copyright © Elsevier Masson SAS 2015

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