Higher Technician Social Integration students who took part in this activity are at different ages: young students with little experience in the professional world (18-24) and experienced adult students (25-35).
The idea of this Learning Scenario is to encourage students as future professionals to promote a better understanding of Mental Health and break the stigma towards mentally ill people.
At the same time, society should facilitate the inclusion of people suffering from mental illnesses. We all want a European community where everybody can participate and contribute to all aspects of our environment. New advances in psychiatric treatments have made it possible to forget the old idea of mental health problems and empathize with people with mental disorders, empower them and define the most appropriate social and labour intervention according to their situation. It is also a way of seeking the inclusion of different health and social realities that are part of a diverse Europe.
Mental Health treatments: past and present
The students looked at the Europeana website. It was the first step to start a comparative investigation about the past and the present of Mental Health treatments. After that, they shared their internship experiences in Community Mental Health centers to all the group class.
It was also really interesting to listen to personal stories of relatives and friends who suffer from mental illnesses and notice how rejected they feel in different social situations (at school, work, when they go shopping, at their friends’ groups, etc).
Some opinions from mental health centers users are published on the dedicated blog. At that point, they analyzed the reason for this social rejection. The history of restraint and isolation of these people in the past may be the origin of poor social understanding nowadays.
Break mental health stigma
The blog has been created to give information about this topic and help it to be better understood. Additionally, the students created some videos to support the break mental health stigma campaign and normalize the coexistence of mental health problems as a part of our European society.
After watching a video which explains that stigma against people with mental illnesses is the most important factor to a high mortality rate, the students were shocked by the consequences of social exclusion. Later, they watched another short video, pointing out that mental illnesses should not be seen as different from other medical illnesses. They simply involve a different part of our body: our brain. We all need to work together against shame. Finally, the campaign videos to break the mental health stigma created by students were published.
All these activities make the students think of their professional field (Higher Technician Social Integration). They may work with mentally-ill people by helping them to find strategies to facilitate full social participation. This may include ways to improve their social skills, providing job placement assistance, and supporting users through social services referrals.
Would you like to know more about this learning scenario? You can download it below:
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The featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana Collections and belongs to the public domain.