November 2015   Comments

Nurses de-stigmatize mental illness

A training program to help nurses and other health-care professionals combat the stigma of mental illness in their professions is now available on CNA’s

It’s a major initiative aimed at improving health-care services for people living with mental illness. “I’ve heard many stories about people who show up in the emergency room with an injury or heart problem, and as soon as the chart indicates that someone has a history of mental illness, suddenly that physical illness is not taken as seriously,” Louise Bradley says in the opening video of the training program.

Bradley is the president and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada which, along with the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, Bell Let’s Talk and CNA, supported the development of the training program, called De-stigmatizing Practices and Mental Illness.

In a later video, a nurse explains that people living with mental illness “feel a great deal of shame; they feel a great deal of fear and anger at the lack of response and prejudice they experience repeatedly in the health-care system.” The project partners point out the supporting research on stigma, which shows it to be the single most significant factor in preventing Canadians with mental illness from seeking help.

Taking about three hours to complete, the program emphasizes mental illness from a patient’s perspective, using personal stories from individuals and families who’ve experienced this stigma. In this way, participants can examine their own beliefs and behaviours toward those living with mental illness and learn how to respond to stigmatizing practices in their workplace.

Visit the Tools section at to sign up for the free program. For more information about CNA’s work on mental health, contact senior nurse advisor Lisa Ashley:

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