New UCL Unit of Stigma Research launches
21 February 2018
A new research unit, the UCL Unit for Stigma Research (UCLUS), launched officially on Friday 16th February 2018.
UCLUS, part of the UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, will focus on generating evidence to investigate and challenge the stigma faced by people with mental health problems intellectual disabilities, and dementia. UCLUS's activities will be co-produced with users and potential beneficiaries of their research.
UCLUS's research falls into two broad areas. The first is stigma associated with intellectual disability; researchers aim to advance understanding of this stigma and how it can be effectively challenged. The team works with people with intellectual disabilities to shape research and practice.
The second area looks at stigma and disclosure. UCLUS researchers focus on how disclosure of mental health problems and dementia diagnoses can reduce stress resulting from a perceived need for secrecy and can challenge stigma. For example, the team has been investigating how mental health professionals can navigate disclosure about mental health issues they are experiencing themselves. The unit is also researching how to put people with dementia in the driving seat when it comes to talking about their diagnosis with others.
Dr Katrina Scior, who leads UCLUS, explained more about the importance of stigma research: "While attitudes to persons with disabilities have changed substantially, in many parts of the world people with intellectual disabilities (mostly referred to as 'learning disabilities' in the UK) are still frequently ostracized from society."
"There is lots of evidence that we still have quite a way to go until we can truly say that people with intellectual disabilities are respected as persons of equal value and rights. In many other parts of the world the journey towards recognising them as persons of equal value has only just begun."
UCLUS officially launched on Friday 16th with a successful full-day conference which examined evidence-based ways of tackling disability stigma, and lived experience and stigma among mental health professionals. Speakers included Dr Scior; Sue Baker of Time to Change; Oonagh Smyth of Mencap; Professor Patrick Corrigan of Illinois Institute of Technology; Dr Clare Gerada of the NHS Practitioner Health Programme; Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes; and Dr Ahmed Hankir, Psychiatrist, and Sal Anderson of University of the Arts London.
UCLUS is supported by the Wellcome Trust.
Researchers from UCLUS including Dr Katrina Scior, Director (front row, second from left).