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J Holist Nurs. 2009 Mar;27(1):57-65. doi: 10.1177/0898010108323011. Epub 2009 Jan 28.

Creating change: using the arts to help stop the stigma of mental illness and foster social integration.

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  • 1University of Washington, School of Nursing, Spokane, WA 99201, USA.


Stigma is a social justice problem that plagues persons with psychiatric disabilities, their families, and society. It fuels the fear underlying discrimination; undermines consumer self-efficacy; and blocks rehabilitation, recovery, and social integration. The author hopes to create a passion for change and suggest a way that everyone can help stop stigma. This approach is simple: to nurture the artistic talent many clients possess and connect them with public venues for their artworks. On display, too, will be the "ability" in "disability." This will reduce stigma while building self-efficacy and empowerment. Anecdotal evidence supports this hypothesis. However, research is needed; a design for a study to test this hypothesis is described. Significantly, an antistigmal arts intervention can be conducted by any aware practitioner; one does not need to be an art therapist or have any background in art, only a desire to make a difference and resources on which to draw.

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