A national framework for recovery-oriented mental health services: guide for practitioners and providers

Capability 5B: Actively challenging stigmatising attitudes and discrimination, and promoting positive understandings

Page last updated: 2013

Recovery-oriented practice and service delivery promotes positive understandings of mental illness and challenges stigma and discrimination.

Core principles

  • Direct personal contact with people who experience mental health issues is the best approach to reducing stigma.
  • People with a lived experience of mental health can best design and deliver antistigma education.
  • Empowerment helps people with experience of mental health issues to develop a sense of self-efficacy and thereby helps to combat discrimination and the internalising of stigma.


Values and attitudes

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • accept, value and celebrate difference
  • reject and challenge stigmatising and discriminating attitudes and behaviours
  • acknowledge that stigma and negative attitudes can exist within mental health service settings as well as being internalised among people with a lived experience


Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • understand concepts of stigma and discrimination and their impacts on people experiencing mental health issues, including internalised stigma
  • understand that stigma and discrimination can be experienced as trauma
  • understand stigma and discrimination in the health, mental health and related workforces
  • understand the role of media in both perpetrating and redressing discrimination
  • know antidiscrimination legislation, policy frameworks and mechanisms for complaint and redress
  • know best practice in stigma reduction—what works and how individuals, organisations and communities can assist Top of page

Skills and behaviours

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • actively challenge stigmatising attitudes within service settings and community settings and engender hope and positivity among people with a lived experience
  • provide accurate information about mental health issues and promote positive messages and images
  • support people with mental health issues, their families and carers to work through self-stigma and their own negative beliefs and views
  • encourage and support appropriate disclosure

Recovery-oriented practice

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • model non-discriminatory practice, including the use of non-stigmatising and non-discriminatory language
  • support and foster leadership of people with experience of mental health issues
  • facilitate and support peer-led antistigma campaigns and activities

Recovery-oriented leadership

Mental health practitioners and providers...
  • model a positive service culture that rejects stigmatising attitudes, policies and processes within service settings
  • audit service delivery against agreed antistigma criteria and act on any areas needing change
  • employ people with lived experience of mental health issues
  • acknowledge and promote the role of consumer and carer leaders within the service
  • ensure safe spaces for peers to meet, gather and organise
  • initiate peer-designed and peer-run programs ad services
  • collaborate with peer-run services in the community
  • ensure organisational and staff participation in and contribution to local initiatives aimed to promote positive understanding and reduce stigma and discrimination. Top of page


  • Make an organisational commitment to challenge stigma and discrimination.
  • Sponsor local awards and competitions that seek to address stigma by promoting positive messages.
  • Link to existing advocacy groups and activities from non-health areas (for example, sporting associations, the arts and media).

Resource materials