Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

Developing Organizational Interventions to Address Stigma Among Mental Health Providers: A Pilot Study

This article outlines a pilot study of “It’s Just Us,” an organizational intervention designed to reduce stigma among mental health providers by increasing awareness of the stigma they hold toward both clients and other providers with lived experience of mental health challenges. The targeted organization was the Mental Health Service Line in a large, Midwestern VA health care system. About 30% of the clinicians in the service provided information about their levels of stigma toward clients and providers who manage mental health challenges at baseline, 1 year later, and 2 years later. Educational and contact interventions targeting stigma are detailed; the first year included education and short-term contact interventions, while the second year included continuous contact interventions. At the end of the first year, scores on a measure of stigma toward mental health providers with lived experience were significantly lower, while scores on (a) a self-report measure of stigma toward clients and (b) self-disclosure of lived experience to professional peers were unchanged. At the end of the second year, scores for stigma toward clients had improved, and providers in the sample were more likely to share their lived experience with professional peers. Further research is necessary to validate these findings. Data provides preliminary support for the use of the “It’s Just Us” curriculum as a means of reducing stigma among mental health providers. This model may also be useful in addressing stigma among other types of health care providers as well.