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Challenging the Stigma of Mental Illness: Lessons for Therapists and Advocates Patrick W. Corrigan, David Roe & Hector W. H. Tsang Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, £60.00, hb, 254 pp. ISBN: 9780470683606

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Floriana Coccia*
Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, The Barberry Centre, Birmingham, UK, email:
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Copyright © Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2011

As suggested in the preface, the book's target audience are advocates whose role is to reduce mental health stigma. The authors define stigma, explain how stigma develops and examine the concepts of attitudes, stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination. Parallels are drawn with ethnic and religious discrimination and an exercise is included which serves to challenge mental health stigma by substituting ethnic terminology for mental illness labels. Last, the book looks at challenging public stigma, self-stigma and structural stigma. Public stigma may improve with exposure to people with mental illness, with education and through protests against discriminatory practices. It is suggested that fostering empowerment is the mainstay of tackling self-stigma, and the section on structural stigma focuses on providing information about the rights of people with a mental illness and the laws protecting them from discrimination.

The chapters on targeting stigma include guidelines, flowcharts and examples that can be used in daily practice. Some of these I found helpful, such as an example letter to a broadcaster pointing out stigmatising content in a broadcast, and suggesting using specific comments and facts to counter erroneous assumptions. Later on the in the book most of the worksheets and examples are directed at ‘consumers’ (the preferred term in the book), including an assessment of self-stigma. As the book is aimed at advocates, the worksheets add to the rather muddled and laboured style of writing present throughout. At times sentences are so long they require rereading several times, and in other areas ideas are introduced rather abruptly and are not clearly detailed. This is a pity as the writing style detracts from the importance of the matters being addressed.

Overall, I think the intentions of the authors are honourable and the book includes good suggestions on how to tackle the widespread problems of stigma. These range from small tasks that people could carry out in daily life to large changes required at government level.

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