Conference Agenda

RN16_07a: Mental Health and inequality
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Luigi Gariglio, University of Turin
Location: UP.4.204
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road


Men’s Experiences Of Help-Seeking For Mental Distress

Alexandra Yvonne Vickery

University of Bristol, United Kingdom

In the context of health, particularly mental health, the dominant narrative is that men are more reluctant to seek help for problems in living than women. Men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women (ONS, 2016) and studies suggest that men do not seek help on account of a perceived threat to performing ‘hegemonic’ masculinity that limits emotional expression and vulnerability (Addis and Mahalik, 2003). They also put forward that men have fewer, and more ineffective coping strategies than women. This paper reports findings from doctoral research that explores men’s coping and management of distress, with particular focus on help-seeking practices. Between 2016 and 2017, 40 semi-structured interviews were carried out in South Wales, UK, with men from different ages and social backgrounds, recruited from the general public and mental health support groups. Analysis demonstrates distinct gendered characteristics of men’s help-seeking and coping behaviour. Hegemonic masculine discourse is evident in men’s help-seeking practices as they discuss barriers to do with manly self-reliance, shame of vulnerability and lack of insight into mental distress symptoms. Yet the majority of participants had actually attempted to seek out professional support for their mental distress and so cultural barriers and hegemonic discourses could be perceived as excuses rather than barriers in their accounts of mental health help-seeking. Findings thus indicate that men can and will seek help when it is needed and points to a focus in future research on what men do differently in the management of their mental health.

Ethnic Minorities, Mental Illness Stigma and Health Care: Stigma as Deflection

Dharmi Kapadia

The University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Mental illness stigma is damaging. In the UK, we see a proliferation of the idea of greater mental illness stigma in ethnic minority populations. The thesis is that ‘culturally’ there is more stigma in these communities due to religious, spiritual or traditional beliefs about mental ill-health. These explanations are abundant amongst people suffering with mental illness, and also amongst family members, health professionals, and charities working with ethnic minority groups.

What has been missing in the field is a consideration of how mental illness stigma operates alongside racialisation (or race stigma). There has been no theorisation of how discriminatory treatment that ethnic minority people are subject to, works in conjunction with mental illness stigma to exacerbate health outcomes. Instead, there has been an inflation of the idea that greater mental illness stigma in ethnic minority populations accounts for a lot of the disparities we see in access to talking treatments, recovery rates, use of crisis mental health services and detainment under the Mental Health Act, with ethnic minority groups faring worse on all of these outcomes.

This inflation of the impact of mental illness stigma in ethnic minority communities without corresponding research evidence, is potentially dangerous, as it deflects attention away from the structural health service problems that need to be addressed. This paper uses data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey to critique assumptions of higher levels of stigma for ethnic minority people, and discusses a new direction for mental illness stigma research in ethnic minority populations.

“Life Stories And Mental Health Of Unemployed People Over 45 Years Old. Longitudinal Study”

Júlia Herrera Belzunces

University of Barcelona, Spain

The aim of this ongoing investigation is to shed light on the life stories of 10 unemployed people aged 45 and over and the changes and challenges they have faced for two years. Taking a longitudinal perspective, the objectives are three. First, investigate how their life stories have changed in this period focusing on life events, employment changes and self-esteem. Secondly, to deepen into the differences between women and men’s discourses and, strategies for overcoming unemployment and its implications. Thirdly, to study which mental health implications have had unemployment situation to them. The three hypotheses of the research are: (a) The personal situation of the subject has improved in two years thanks to finding a new job or because of the normalization of his or her living condition. (b) Women show a better professional and labour adaptation, so they are more likely to find a faster solution than men. (c) Despite the improvement in economical and material terms, the mental health of the subjects has been deteriorated because they haven’t been diagnosed and treated. In order to respect the subjects and the nature of the theme as much as possible, the methodological approach is qualitative. It is based on open interviews with script and discourse analysis made with the computer program Atlas.ti. The first results will be discussed with the respondents in order to enrich the present research with their feedbacks and to get solid conclusions for future investigations.

Group-Focused Enmity, Knowledge And Acquaintanceship: How Do They Influence Stigma Towards People With Schizophrenia?

Elisabeth Hackl, Robert Moosbrugger

Johannes Kepler Universität, Austria

Heitmeyer (2007) defines the concept of „Group-Focused Enmity” as willingness to marginalize and exclude not only individuals but groups as a whole. Group-Focused Enmity is seen as a result of rising disorientation. Being in a precarious position leads to more Group-Focused Enmity to compensate for a lack of societal recognition which goes along with a higher readiness to discriminate weak groups (e.g. people with disabilities, non-established people, etc.). Contact hypothesis (Allport 1954) suggests that contact with members of a certain group may reduce prejudice. Congruently – regarding people with mental illnesses – increasing interpersonal contacts as well as knowledge are most commonly used anti-stigma strategies (Corrigan et al 2001; Gronholm et al 2016).

We therefore ask

1. Which influences can be found on Group-Focused Enmity especially against people with mental illnesses?

2. How is Group-Focused Enmity related to stigmatizing people with schizophrenia?

3. How does general knowledge about mental illnesses and acquaintanceship with people suffering from mental illnesses affect this relation?

We use survey data among the Austrian population out of the project “Monitoring Public Stigma Austria 2018” to approach these issues.


Allport, G. W. (1954). The nature of prejudice. Oxford: Addison-Wesley.

Heitmeyer, W. (Eds.) (2007). Deutsche Zustände. Folge 5. Frankfurt: suhrkamp.

Corrigan P.W., River L.P., Lundin R.K. et al. (2001). Three strategies for changing attributions about severe mental illness. Schizophr Bull 27:187–195.

Gronholm et al. (2016). Interventions to reduce discrimination and stigma: the state of the art. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology 52 (3): 249-258.