Anti stigma Aberdeen campaign encourages inclusiveness

Aberdeen’s iconic building Marischal College will be lit up in purple to mark International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) today (Tuesday 31 August).

IOAD 2021 aims to encourage the public to reflect a little and to think about those people dependent on alcohol or drugs and the families that live with and support them daily.

It comes at the end of a month-long #AntiStigmaAberdeen campaign by Community Planning Aberdeen, which as part of a separate initiative, aimed to raise awareness of how stigma can have a profound effect upon the lives of people.

Stigma is often experienced by people with mental health difficulties; use substances, in treatment or in recovery from substance use; people living with HIV and people living in poverty. It can act as a barrier to seeking help, speaking out, recovery and its impact can permeate numerous aspects of a person’s life such as their health and wellbeing, relationships, education, employment prospects, and socio-economic status. 

Understanding Stigma: Promoting Inclusive Attitudes and Practice offered those working in Community Planning practical resources and training opportunities to help them understand and address the impact of stigma on people with mental health difficulties and people who use substances, people in treatment or in recovery from substance use.

Councillor Jenny Laing, Leader of Aberdeen City Council and Chairperson of Community Planning Aberdeen said: “The impact of stigma on individuals can be profound, people feel marginalised and reluctant to seek advice and support.

“Through our #AntiStigmaAberdeen campaign, community planning partners have shared their knowledge and skills about stigma and its impact. Through engaging with those who are or have experienced stigma we can educate ourselves and raise awareness, challenge stigmatising language and promote inclusiveness.

“Community Planning Aberdeen’s commitment to the Local Outcome Improvement Plan (LOIP) aims to make Aberdeen a place where everyone can prosper, which in real terms means by working together, sharing knowledge and best practice we can ensure that all our citizens feel included and empowered.”

Dermot Craig, Recovery Committee Development manager, Aberdeen In Recovery (AIR) said: “The founders of International Overdose Awareness Day, the Pennington Institute, stated that the aim of the IOAD campaign is a time to remember, without stigma, those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the families and friends left behind. It also states, “It’s a Time to Act”.

“So, our ask to you is, either on the day or in the future, will you join with us and actively look to think beyond our initial, sometimes prejudiced, first thought and take responsibility of the second and think of the human being behind the addictive behaviour, substance use and or mental health struggles with compassion rather than misunderstanding.”

Colin Stewart from Our Positive Voice (Grampian) said: "Having been diagnosed HIV+ in 1996, I have experienced stigma from many sources over the years so I know the detrimental affect it can have on your wellbeing. It is sad that stigma is still happening today, but it is very encouraging that Aberdeen has been running this campaign to inform people about HIV and the damage that stigma does."

For more information on #AntiStigmaAberdeen visit Community Planning Aberdeen

Community Planning Aberdeen consists of Aberdeen City Council; ACVO; Aberdeen Civic Forum; North East Scotland College; Police Scotland; Scottish Fire and Rescue; Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership; NHS Grampian; NESTRANS; Skills Development Scotland; Scottish Enterprise; Active Aberdeen Partnership; Robert Gordon University and the University of Aberdeen.

The Sir Ian Wood Building at RGU Garthdee Campus will also be lit up in purple to mark IOAD 2021.