Discussing mental health difficulties in a “diagnosis free zone”

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Weiste , E , Stevanovic , M , Valkeapää , T , Valkiaranta , K & Lindholm , C 2021 , ' Discussing mental health difficulties in a “diagnosis free zone” ' , Social Science and Medicine , vol. 289 , 114364 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2021.114364

Title: Discussing mental health difficulties in a “diagnosis free zone”
Author: Weiste, Elina; Stevanovic, Melisa; Valkeapää, Taina; Valkiaranta, Kaisa; Lindholm, Camilla
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies
University of Helsinki, Tampere University
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
University of Helsinki, Tampere University
Date: 2021-11
Language: eng
Belongs to series: Social Science and Medicine
ISSN: 0277-9536
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/335716
Abstract: Being identified as “mentally ill” is a complicated social process that may be stigmatizing and socially problematic, as a mental illness diagnosis determines the criteria for what is considered normal. This has given rise to a number of anti-stigma campaigns designed to create awareness of the way stigmas affect people with mental health difficulties and to normalize those difficulties in society. One such campaign is the “diagnosis-free zone”, which declares that those with mental health difficulties should not be categorized on the basis of their diagnosis; rather, they should be encountered as full individuals. In this paper, we investigate how mental health difficulties are discussed in Clubhouse communities, which adhere to the “diagnosis free zone” programme. The findings are based on conversation analysis of 29 video-recorded rehabilitation group meetings, in one Finnish Clubhouse, intended to advance clients' return to the labour market. The analysis demonstrated that members referred to their mental health difficulties to explain the misfortunes in their lives, especially interruptions and stoppages in their careers. By contrast, staff members disattended members’ explanations and normalized their situations as typical of all humans and thus unrelated to their mental health difficulties as such. In this way, the discussion of mental health difficulties at the Clubhouse meetings was implicitly discouraged. We propose that the standards of normality expected of a person not suffering from a mental health difficulty may well be different from the expectations levelled at participants with a history of mental problems. Therefore, instead of considering cultural expectations of normality to be a unified domain, effective anti-stigma work might sometimes benefit from referring to mental-health diagnoses as a means of explicitly tailoring expectations of normality.
Subject: Conversation analysis
Diagnosis
Mental health
Normalization
Stigma
3124 Neurology and psychiatry
518 Media and communications
6121 Languages
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