Fighting Stigma in the Community: Bridging Ties Through Social Innovation Interventions

Fighting Stigma in the Community: Bridging Ties Through Social Innovation Interventions

Nicolina Bosco (University of Florence, Italy), Susanna Giaccherini (Public Mental Health Service of Tuscany, Italy), Fausto Petrini (University of Florence, Italy), Stefano Castagnoli (Public Mental Health Service of Tuscany, Italy) and Patrizia Meringolo (University of Florence, Italy)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 36
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3808-0.ch006

Abstract

This chapter will discuss action research conducted in Tuscany to fight stigma surrounding mental illness. Public mental health services (PMHS) in Italy are perceived as ascribing a mentally ill label to individuals who utilize these programs. Local associations, especially sports associations, can be used to fight this stigma. This chapter will present key aspects and results of a community social innovation intervention jointly performed by a PMHS and the University of Florence. The research will explore perceptions surrounding the role and value of the community sports association, participants' perceived improvements, effects of sports participation, and the role of the sports association as an instrument to promote mental health. Results will show that the sports association is perceived as an agent of social capital to reduce social barriers emerging from mental illness. In addition, stigma is deconstructed through improvements to individual and social wellbeing.
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Introduction

This chapter will describe the role of the La Rugiada sports association as a powerful instrument to deconstruct stigma in mental health. First, the chapter will summarize the theoretical background. Next, the context of the intervention and its main features will be presented. The chapter will share study results related to a local community’s strategies to prevent stigma surrounding mental illness.

Stigma consists of a social dimension (or public stigma) and an individual dimension (or self-stigma). Both dimensions are capable of affecting an individual’s recovery from mental illness and isolation (Andrews, Issakidis, & Carter, 2001). Through individual participation, sports and teams can create a sense of community (Soundy et al., 2015).

By exploring a sports association’s role in well-being, services can be identified to fight the effects of stigma and promote community mental health. This chapter will describe the role of La Rugiada in rural Tuscany, Italy. It will consider interventions realized through a sports association’s role as a social innovation strategy.

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