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05 November 2020

King's College London academic to lead Lancet global stigma in mental health commission

Professor Sir Graham Thornicroft will co-Chair a report assessing global stigma and discrimination in mental health, commissioned by The Lancet.

Young man looking face to face with another person who has their hand on his shoulder

Stigma and discrimination against people with mental health illnesses are global issues and have serious impacts on well-being and opportunity. Many people with mental ill health experience social exclusion due to stigma and discrimination, which includes barriers to accessing healthcare, higher unemployment, and greater risk of premature death. The problems caused by stigma and discrimination in mental health exist in all countries, though research suggests that simple interventions can be effective at reducing such negative impacts.

The new Lancet Commission on Stigma and Discrimination in Mental Health, co-chaired by Professor Sir Graham Thornicroft of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London and Charlene Sunkel of the Global Mental Health Peer Network in Johannesburg, will develop a set of practical recommendations to reduce mental health stigma and discrimination at the local, national and global levels. 21 Commissioners from 15 countries have agreed to collaborate on this report, supported by an expert Advisory Board.

It is especially important that people with experience of mental illness are central to the work of this Commission. Health is a human right, and mental health is no less and no more important than physical health.

Professor Sir Graham Thornicroft of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College Londo

He added, ‘We therefore expect that we shall forcefully argue for the right to mental health, for service user empowerment, for support, care and treatment for all who need these, and for sustained measures to eliminate stigma and discrimination related to mental illness - all as core elements of what it means to live in a civilised world.’

The Commission has six aims:

  • to clearly define stigma and discrimination and produce a framework to guide the Commission’s work
  • To summarise global evidence of how people with poor mental health experience stigma and discrimination
  • To describe the wide-ranging impacts of stigma
  • To review the effectiveness of interventions to reduce stigma and discrimination
  • To identify the policies, resources and interventions needed to eradicate stigma and discrimination
  • To develop a set of actionable recommendations to put these measures into place

These recommendations will be developed with key stakeholder groups including policy makers, service users, clinicians, researchers and advocates.

The Commission will also draw upon the first-hand experiences of people with mental ill health who have experienced stigma and discrimination. The contributors can share their experiences via the Commission website.

Contact: For interviews or any further media information please contact Louise Pratt, Head of Communications, IoPPN: / +44 7850 919020

In this story

Graham Thornicroft

Professor of Community Psychiatry