Health Care Providers and their Role in Understanding Stigma

TORONTO, February 14, 2018 – While we know that people with mental illness and addiction often face stigma in Canadian society, we may be surprised to learn that they face it within health care environments as well. Today, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) launched a free online course called Understanding Stigma, designed to help health care providers and front-line clinicians develop strategies to improve care for people with mental health and addiction problems.

This self-directed course is available in both official languages and consists of three modules that focus on raising awareness, the impacts of stigma, and challenging stigma and discrimination.

The Understanding Stigma online course is being hosted on CAMH’s website, making it easily accessible to health care providers and frontline clinicians Canada-wide. We invite all members from the healthcare sector to complete this free online course, designed to complement their strategies in understanding stigma.


“As a registered psychiatric nurse, if told my interaction with a person with mental health and addiction problems caused them to feel devalued or dismissed, it would feel like a punch in the gut. I recognize that everyone in the system is working at capacity to provide the best possible patient care. To show our support, the Understanding Stigma online course was designed for health care providers who wish to develop strategies to better understand and care for people with mental health and addiction problems.”

–Ed Mantler, Vice President, Programs and Priorities, Mental Health Commission of Canada

“CAMH is committed to improving the quality of care and driving mental health advocacy through education. We are delighted to partner with the Mental Health Commission of Canada to adapt and host their successful classroom course as a free, online course—making it even more accessible to professionals across the country. We are making progress on reducing the stigma of mental illness. As health care providers, we must continue to challenge our own attitudes and co-create strategies with our patients to address stigma. Together we can make a difference.”

–Dr. Ivan Silver, Vice President, Education, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health


Quick facts 

  • ​The stigmatization of people living with mental health and addiction problems is all too common in Canada, including within health care environments. People with lived experiences of mental health and addiction problems often report feeling devalued, dismissed and dehumanized by many of the healthcare professionals with whom they come into contact.
  • The MHCC and CAMH partnered to develop a web platform to help market and promote efforts to enlist health care provider participation.

  • The MHCC will facilitate the evaluation of the online course, as it has done for other health care provider programs in the past.

  • Research with health care providers suggests that stigma can manifest in subtle and largely unintended ways (Knaak & Patten).

  • The course provides scenarios, interactive questions, personal stories and quizzes intended to help change the attitudes and behaviours of health care providers toward people seeking help.

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Media Relations, Mental Health Commission of Canada

Media Relations, CAMH

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