Mental Health – stigma edition – CyMSA Cyprus

Name of the activity: Mental Health – stigma edition 

Country/NMO: CyMSA Cyprus

Program: Mental Health

Contact information: contact [email protected] to get in touch with the Activity Coordinator

Type of the activity: First-time Activity

Category: Education

Focus area: Mental Health Stigma

Sustainable Development Goals addressed: SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities)

General description:

We organised a workshop for medical students including a psychiatrist as an expert speaker. She spoke us about stigma in Mental Health and the public health burden that comes with it. The goal was to debunk some common myths and stereotypes. We discussed basic principles of management of patients with mental illnesses. Finally, we were divided into groups, and we practiced on some scenarios about people’s mental disorder.

Problem statement:

970 million people worldwide suffers from mental health, and the prevalence among doctors is 17-52%.Only 47% of them recognise it and look for help.There is still a considerable amount of stigma and discrimination around mental health. Mentally ill patients don’t look for help, face physical violence or harassment, have fewer opportunities, and face problems on the health care system. Also, the healthcares’ refusal of their mental health can lead to lower productivity, and poor quality of care. 

Target groups:

  • Medical students


  • General population
  • Medical students


  1.       Create an open discussion on stigmatisation and discrimination of mental illness. 
  2.       Remove the stigma which create self-doubt and shame. People tend to believe that a mental health condition is a sign of personal weakness or that they should be able to control it without help. Seeking counseling, educating themselves about their condition and connecting with others who have mental illness may help their self-esteem and overcome negative thoughts.
  3.       Stop the isolation of mentally ill people, and create a safe environment to encouraged them to communicate it. Family, friends, clergy or members of a community can offer compassion, support, and understanding if they know about their mental illness. 
  4.       Raising awareness about the stigma in mental health. Consider expressing opinions at events, in letters to the editor or on the internet. It can help instill courage in others facing similar challenges and educate the public about mental illness.


  1.       Many of the attendees felt empowered to talk about their mental health and their experiences during and after the session 
  2.       Some attendees felt more educated and ready to answer questions about mental illness and educate people for the true facts about mental health 
  3.       90% of the attendees felt more comfortable and capable to give necessary care to people who struggle with their mental health, after the session
  4.       All the participants answered correctly the questions, by the end of the session, about myths, stereotypes and truths compared to the same questions at the beginning of the session.   
  5.       95% of the attendees considered to have a psychologist in the Medical school, that shows understanding for their mental condition and the need for help. 


Our goals were achieved by the discussion and questions asked by the psychiatrist. She tried to change our point of view towards mental illness, to help us with practical purposes (to not be afraid and to be able to manage these patients like everyone else). There was a very good cooperation from all the people who organised the events, and the preparation did not take too long. A SCOPH’s member had the idea for the workshop, she asked the NPO, and they both talked to the psychiatrist who accepted the proposal. Within 2 weeks, everything was ready and the workshop was held with about 25 people. Due to the sensitive topic of the workshop, we set some rules of ethics and privacy before the workshop started, and everyone followed them without creating any rift

Plans for evaluation:

Before the activity started, we completed a questioner. The aim was to recognise if there were any stereotypical point of view for mental health. It seemed that, some people did not accept mental health problems equally as other diseases, and believed that mental illness is a weakness. By the end of the workshop, we completed again the same questioner to see if there was any difference in their point of view. There was significant difference between the answers and it appeared that the stereotypical point of view had now been clear up. Also, after the theoreticals, participants worked together to see how they would handle some scenarios and it seemed that everyone had a very good approach. The workshop covered all the objectives and goals we had. The speaker made sure to convey to us what really applies to mental health and patients. She tried to help us understand the stigma that exists, so that we can stop it.The evaluation strategy had a qualitative character. 

External collaborations:

We are currently working on several partnerships, however, they are not fixed as of Jan 14th. Target partners include: – Ärztekammer Wien (1-2 lectures on mental health topics provided by associated doctors) – Makava (beverages for events) – Psychologische Studienberatung Wien (2-3 lectures on mental health topics) – Votivkino Wien (cinema viewing of MH related movie, e.g. 2018 US documentary “Stress”, with follow-up discussion under lead from our university prof.)

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