The Role of Media in Anti-Stigma Campaigns. Anti-Stigma Campaign: A Brief Research Report for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Specific Phobia

By Gherman, Alexandru; Predescu, Elena et al. | Journal of Evidence-Based Psychotherapies, September 2008 | Go to article overview
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The Role of Media in Anti-Stigma Campaigns. Anti-Stigma Campaign: A Brief Research Report for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Specific Phobia


Gherman, Alexandru, Predescu, Elena, Iftene, Felicia, Cadariu, Andrei Achimas, Journal of Evidence-Based Psychotherapies


Abstract

Anti-stigma campaigns have received a lot of media attention. They are of interest in the field of medicine, psychology and social care. Multimedia, through its specific means, may be an extremely useful tool in an anti-stigma campaign. We made an informative movie that presents an event in the life of two children with psychological disorders: specific phobia and obsessive compulsive disorder, respectively. The movie was played in 24 Cluj-Napoca schools and high schools and the 591 students, aged 14-18, who watched it filled in a set of five questions. This paper aimed to evaluate how children and adolescents may be influenced by a movie that was also intended to inform them and to fight preconceptions regarding children who suffer from such psychological disorders. The results obtained after quantifying the respondents' answers to the questions were mainly positive. Such movies may be a therapeutic tool as well as a valuable anti-stigma campaign.

Keywords: anti-stigma campaign, obsessive compulsive disorder, specific phobia, movie

Introduction

Anti-stigma campaigns have received a lot of media attention. They are of interest in the field of medicine, psychology and social care.

According to the Romanian Explanatory Dictionary (RED) to stigmatize means to openly characterize or mark as shameful; to express strong disapproval; to mark with a stigma or stigmata; to dishonor.

Stigmatization refers to:

* The use of disgraceful words or phrases in connection with certain behaviors or features of one or more persons with mental health problems (e.g. "insane", "loony", "nuts", "brainsick" etc);

* Limiting someone's identity to a certain behavior or feature;

* Aversion, negative attitude towards labeled persons and avoidance or refusal to support such persons;

* Rejection, hostility, disdain, social exclusion and discrimination of such persons. ("Stigmatization" n.d.)

The importance of anti-stigma campaigns lies in educating the population towards decreasing the negative attitudes that surround the mental illnesses. Such campaigns encourage young people to support and accept their friends who suffer from mental health problems. They should know that these problems can be treated.

A study carried out by the Press Monitoring Agency between November 2006 and January 2007 revealed that out of 637 articles about persons with mental health problems or behaviors specific to such persons, almost 50% stigmatized individuals suffering from psychological problems while only 17% contained educational information (Press Monitoring Agency, 2007).

Studies conducted by the World Health Organization concluded that over 450 million people all over the world suffer from psychological disorders. Romania is ranked fifth in Europe as far as the incidence of psychological disorders is concerned. Currently 20% of Romanians suffer from psychological disorders; 23000 cases of depression are diagnosed every year. It is estimated that one out of four Romanians will develop a mental disorder in the course of their life (World Health Organisation).

Movies have become one of the most relaxing and pleasant leisure time activities since the invention of cinematography 100 years ago. After 1990 movies have been increasingly used in psychological and psychiatric counseling since they are able to move, motivate, and influence (Biris, 2006).

Given this context, we made an informational/didactic movie that depicts an event in the life of two children with psychological disorders: specific phobia and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

The aim of this movie was to inform the population and to increase the society's level of acceptance towards individuals suffering from psychological problems, especially children and adolescents. We also intended to use this movie in an anti-stigma campaign.

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate how children and adolescents may be influenced by a movie that was also intended to inform them and to fight preconceptions regarding people who suffer from OCD and specific phobia.

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