What is a Stigma Buster?

In Movies & Madness, students design and complete Stigma Buster projects.

What is a stigma buster project? A stigma buster project is designed  “…to fight the inaccurate, hurtful representations of mental illness. Whether these images are found in TV, film, print, or other media, StigmaBusters speak out and challenge stereotypes in an effort to educate society about the reality of mental illness and the courageous struggles faced by consumers and families every day. StigmaBusters’ goal is to break down the barriers of ignorance, prejudice, or unfair discrimination by promoting education, understanding, and respect” (NAMI).


After Stigma Busters called attention to it, Amazon removed this product from its website.

The purpose of these projects is to educate the campus and wider community concerning issues of mental illness and its treatment, communicate to the campus and wider community about the degree of misinformation that surrounds us concerning mental illness and its treatment and encourage members of the campus community to develop more accurate and mindful perceptions of people with mental illnesses.

UMU football players say #itsoktotalk about mental health.

UMU football players say #itsoktotalk about mental health.

Examples of projects:

Compose a newspaper article or advertisement for the campus paper, The Alliance Review, The Canton Repository, or your hometown newspaper.

Create a radio public service announcement for air on campus or other radio stations.

Create a video public service announcement for air on campus or local television stations.

Create posters, pamphlets, flyers, stickers or other educational media.

Develop a website.

Develop a proposal for the creation of a student support group (e.g. NAMI on campus).

Develop materials for a hall/house program.

Create a teach-in or panel discussion.

Work with the counseling staff to incorporate materials and a local resource list in orientation materials given to new students.

Develop and present materials to be presented to in classes.

Develop materials to be used by residence hall staff in programs.

Host a movie and discussion on campus.

Plan, with counseling staff, free mental health screenings (including advertising and educational media).

Create display tables to be placed in the HPCC as a way to disseminate information to students.

Write to your senators and representative concerning legislation related to mental health.

  1. Has anyone measured the effects of these projects? I suspect the campus is better informed than most but I am curious to what degree. I guess my question is what does it take to change an ingrained perception? Do these projects as a whole disintegrate years of exposure to misconceptions?

    • Probably not empirically. All I have is anecdotal evidence of impact. Most of my students choose projects to which they can personally relate. This seems to open to door to more change. I would like to do some research on impacts. It’s tricky research to do, however.

      • I was just curious. I think that even if it alters the perceptions of the students who participate in your course it is worthwhile. We can’t “crop dust” stigma, it’s one person at a time. Thank you for your efforts.

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