Kim Hellmus, Ph.D candidate, The Netherlands
This summer I am traveling around the world in search of best/most promising practices on the area of anti-stigma. The name of the project is ‘Wat doe jij?’ and can be translated as ‘What do you do?’ In this blog I would like to share what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
I am a clinical psychologist from the Netherlands and passionate about fighting stigma associated with mental health challenges. I set out to find at least 15 concrete best-practices worldwide, which will serve as the basis for an anti-stigma toolkit for use in the Netherlands. The “What do you do?” Project aims to create awareness and empowers people to think about what they can contribute in the battle against stigma. Eventually, the main target group that will work with the anti-stigma toolkit are consumers and mental health professionals.
To find the best practices I’m asking experts in various countries to tell me ‘what works’ in the battle against stigma. The positive recommendations from prof. Dr. Pat Corrigan led me to San Francisco. And that is where I am now; behind a desk at the Center for Dignity, Recovery, and Stigma Elimination in San Francisco, one of the most promising anti-stigma organizations in the US. I am here to learn about their initiatives.
The reason to initiate this project and develop the passion to fight stigma is threefold. The first and most important reason for me is that learning from life so far, I truly believe negative judgment can prevent people from to getting the most out of their lives, reaching their potential. Labeling, stereotyping, separation, strong emotional reactions, discrimination and power differentials can seriously effect the quality of life of people and is the primary barrier to accessing treatment and recovery. As a psychologist I want to enhance the quality of life of people in need, and I think a big part of that is combating stigma in every possible way. .
The second reason is that I believe there is great possibility to help each other to improve the health care system through the worldwide growth of the Internet, networks and development of technology. . I’d like to use technology as an opportunity to share best practices and hopefully inspire others to do the same.
The third reason is that I feel happy while doing it. When I am giving a presentation about this project or when I speak to different people about it at home, on conferences or during my travels I feel that I am doing something good that fits my talent.
If you have any questions or if you’d like to learn more about the project, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org_ or follow the project on twitter [watdoejij1](https://twitter.com/Watdoejij1 ) or facebookpage: [watdoejij] (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wat-Doe-Jij/220413358048133).
Kim Helmus. Psychologist
Supported in collaboration with three Dutch Organizations: Phrenos, Samen Sterk Tegen Stigma, and GGZ-Drenthe.