23 March 2023

CNWL staff from our Addictions Directorate facilitated a panel discussion exploring the impact of stigma at the ‘Mind Over Matter’ Conference on 18 March. The theme of the conference was intersectionality, and it was run by Imperial College’s Psychiatry Society.

Intersectionality is when multiple categories of social identity (such as gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability) interact (or intersect) to result in discrimination and disadvantage.

Dr Jeffrey Fehler, Clinical Director of CNWL’s Addictions Directorate and Course Leader for the Year 5 Psychiatry course at Imperial, was joined by two trainees, Dr Pooja Sree and Dr Jethro Ngwu, as well as peer support worker Qas Hassan.

Dr Sree and Dr Ngwu presented accounts of stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness in their respective countries: Nigeria and India. Qas presented a personal account of his journey from patient to staff member, focusing on the challenges encountered by many from minority ethnic backgrounds regarding stigma. 

The conference also explored a range of topics including the history and philosophy of psychiatry, minority stress (considering the impact of stigma on the LGBTQ+ community), as well as the overlap of the arts with psychiatry (using different intersecting themes and disciplines to aid how we understand and treat mental illness).

Dr Fehler reflected: “It is really important to have a conversation about this topic in order to raise awareness of the impact of stigma on those with mental illness and/or addictions, in particular those from minority ethnic backgrounds. This conference organised by students for students presented us with an opportunity to do so and we had some thought-provoking questions from a very engaged audience”.