Symposium, "Stigma, Discrimination and Mental Illness," Kicks Off Public Awareness Campaign
Author: David Santen, Office of Marketing and Communications (503-725-8789)
Posted: April 21, 2006

A symposium and workshop on April 27–28 will kick off a public awareness campaign bringing attention to discriminatory behavior toward people with mental illnesses.

Sponsored by Multnomah County Department of Human Services and Portland State University’s Department of Philosophy and Graduate School of Social Work, the free public symposium, “Stigma, Discrimination and Mental Illness: Does It Matter?” takes place Thursday, April 27, 5:30–7:30 p.m. at Portland State’s Smith Memorial Student Union, room 296 (1825 SW Broadway, Portland).

British psychiatrist Richard Warner, M.B., D.P.M., will deliver the keynote address and will moderate the panel discussion. Dr. Warner helped direct a global campaign by the World Psychiatric Association to reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness. He is a professor of Psychiatry and an adjunct professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado, and served as medical director of the Mental Health Center of Boulder County, Colo., from 1976 until September 2005.

Dr. Warner, whose research focuses on economic and social factors that impact the course of mental illness, and other symposium panelists will examine the issues underlying stigma and discrimination of individuals who experience mental illness; Dr. Warner will also outline a “road map” for implementation of an anti-stigma campaign. Other panelists include:
James Boehnlein, M.D., professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University, and education director, Veterans Administration Northwest Network Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC);
Kevin Bowers, Community Justice manager, Parole and Probation, Mental Health Unit, Multnomah County Department of Justice;
Beckie Child, advocate for mental health system transformation; self-identifies as a person with a psychiatric disability;
Gabrielle Glaser, reporter at The Oregonian, and author;
Bob Joondeph, J.D., executive director of the Oregon Advocacy Center in Portland, Oregon;
Mark Kaplan, Dr.P.H., professor of Community Health, Portland State University;
Kathie McCoullough, M.S., corrections counselor with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department;
David Pollack, M.D., professor of Psychiatry, Public Health and Preventive Medicine and associate director of the Public Psychiatry Training Program, OHSU;
Judge Steven A. Todd, Multnomah County Circuit Court.

Patricia Backlar and Dr. David Cutler will lead the Oregon program aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination due to mental illness. Dr. Cutler is the medical director for Multnomah County Human Services Department’s Mental Health and Addiction Services and an adjunct professor of Psychiatry at Ohio State University. The two served as co-editors for Ethics in Community Mental Health Care: Commonplace Concerns (Kluwer Academic 2002).

Prof. Backlar is a research associate professor of Bioethics in the Department of Philosophy at Portland State, senior scholar at the Center for Ethics in Health Care and an adjunct associate professor of Bioethics in the Department of Psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University. Prof. Backlar is the author of the critically acclaimed The Family Face of Schizophrenia (Putnam, 1994), and also served on President Clinton’s National Bioethics Advisory Commission.

Additional support for the program is being provided by the Center for Ethics in Health Care at Oregon Health & Science University, Oregon Advocacy Center, the School of Community Health at Portland State University, and the PSU President’s Commission on the Status of Women.

On Friday, April 28, Dr. Warner will meet with community leaders to establish local action committees for the program, which will include representatives from a range of health care service and government organizations (note: this meeting is by invitation only), including Oregon Consumer/Survivor Network Project; Mental Health Association of Oregon; Oregon National Alliance on Mental Illness (including Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington Counties); Oregon Advocacy Center; Multnomah County Criminal Justice System; Oregon Ecumenical Ministries and others. Dr. Warner will return to Portland on a regular basis for the next few years in order to assist the local action committees in their work.

Media interested in interviewing Dr. Warner or the co-directors of the new Oregon program (Prof. Patricia Backlar and Dr. David Cutler), should contact David Santen, Office of Marketing and Communications at Portland State University (503-725-8789; or Althea Milechman, Multnomah County Public Affairs Office (503-988-6805;

“No group in society has been so painfully stigmatized as people with physical and mental disabilities. Moreover, many people who wholeheartedly oppose stigmatization based on race or sex or sexual orientation feel that some sort of differential treatment is appropriate for those who are different by ‘nature.’” —Martha Nussbaum, Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame and the Law (Princeton University Press, 2004).

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Patricia Backlar (503-725-3499)
PSU Department of Philosophy

For Immediate Release (#06-069)