Anti-Stigma Work in the Highlands

Considering the prevalence of mental ill health today, there is  still a lot of work to be done to change attitudes, raise awareness and put an end to mental health stigma. As well as working to support people experiencing mental ill health, we also do our bit to tackle these broader issues. One of the first steps of recovery is seeking help when it's needed, but the stigma around mental ill health can prevent people from seeking assistance. Below are some of the events and projects we do that have mental health stigma as their focus and also the partners who we work with on our anti-stigma work.

Let's walk a mile

Each year, we organise Let's Walk a Mile Inverness, which brings together individuals and organisations who are interested in talking about mental health and raising awareness of the importance of open dialogue and ending stigma. Participants taking part in this free event walk a mile through the city centre, have conversations, hand out flyers, and wear t-shirts with messages about mental health. 


Birchwood Highland is the leading partner of the Highland Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival which is held each year in Inverness. Each year we are part of the Highland organisational committee and also present different artwork and films. In 2016 together with the artists from Creativity in Care Birchwood Highland service users take part in workshops to create artwork to be shown at the festival. Below is our latest film, Four Ordinary Lives, One Ordinary Day, which was screened at Eden Court in October 2016 and explored stigma from the perspective of highlighting our similarities whatever our mental health is like, rather than our differences. 

We regularly contribute to the festival in the form of service user artwork displayed in various locations in Inverness and some years at their geographical area of Highland.


See Me ScotlanD

We work closely with See Me Scotland on promoting anti-stigma messages at our fundraising events and online to reduce stigma around mental health. See Me provide information for people who are struggling with mental ill health and would like advice on seeking help, and for those who wish to support friends, family and coworkers.  


Parent/child communication project

This project undertaken during 2016 in one of Highland's secondary schools looked at the best way parents can communicate with their children to discuss issues or concerns regarding mental health.   From our work in this field we have learnt how young people can feel unsupported and parents are a key source of support so this project was aimed at highlighting some of the best ways to open channels for parents. This project was undertaken in partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands and HUG (Action for Mental Health), a collective advocacy organisation here in the Highlands and involved focus groups of young people in the secondary school and separate focus groups with parents.  A copy of the leaflet produced as a result of this research can be found below.

To view the reports click here

Age in Mind

This is a Scottish-wide project, co-ordinated by Action in Mind which we take the lead on in the Highlands, in conjunction with the Scottish Mental Health Co-operative. There is currently little information on the 50-65 and 65+ age groups in terms of their experience of mental health issues / stigmatisation and discrimination. This two-year project will endeavour to reveal their views in year one and establish solutions to issues raised in year two.


Migrants Matter

This was a wide-ranging research project in collaboration with the University of the Highlands and Islands, HUG (Action for Mental Health) and the Highland Council. Current figures suggest that suicide rates are significantly higher for migrant workers from the EU countries. This project looked at where the problems are – is it self-stigmatisation? Does migration compound mental health issues? The project was undertaken through peer research and the findings were shared at a symposium hosted by Birchwood Highland in Inverness in May 2016, with many academics from across the UK and Europe, Westminster and Scottish Parliament politicians, mental health professionals and migrants attending.

To view the conference reports click here


Highland Change Network

This is a Highland-wide multi-agency group which aims to bust mental health stigmaand discrimination. This pan-Highland group includes Birchwood Highland, HUG (Action for Mental Health), SPEAK, The Samaritans, Befrienders Highland and the NHS.