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Research

Presentations on the theoretical framework underpinning Mentalympians were presented at both the Mental Health Services 20th Annual Conference in 2010 and the Leading the Change Conference in 2011.

In addition, Assistant Professor Amy C. Watson, a world-leading researcher of stigma has offered an opinion how Mentalympians might benefit individuals with mental health problems.


Following is a brief summary of some of the issues; links to several research publications related to the role of self-efficacy on human behaviour, self-stigma, and media portrayal of mental illness; as well as our abstract from the 2010 conference for your review.
 
As addressed at the conferences, Mentalympians draws largely on Albert Bandura's model of self-efficacy and the importance of social models to increase people's belief in their own ability to overcome difficulties and persevere in the face of obstacles.  Unfortunately, negative and distorted portrayals of people with mental health problems are common in the news and entertainment media. Not only do such portrays result in social stigma, prejudice and discrimination, a large number of individuals with mental health problems internalize these negative and distorted portrayals and this process acts as a major barrier to their recovery and wellbeing. Often people suffer from lower self-esteem, are less likely to seek help, and are more socially isolated. However, research indicates that strengthening group identity has the potential to act as a protective factor for individuals in marginalized communities by "bolstering self-esteem and self-efficacy". 
 
Consequently, Mentalympians will be providing examples of people who have recovered from mental health problems to serve as social role models to enhance self-efficacy.  As well, accomplishments of various people with mental health problems will be celebrated to establish the resilience, talents, intelligence and humanity possessed by people with mental health problems.  Moreover, the social network will permit interested individuals to participate in the mental health community in a safe and supportive environment. 
 
Please note that only the publications respecting self-stigma below are available free online. However, here is a comprehensive list of publications by Albert Bandura and many are available without charge (here). 
   
Sebastian Rosenberg and Keith Mahar (2010) 'Mentalympians - A Peer Support System for the 21st Century'
Mentalympians is a unique, 21st century peer support online platform that aims to stimulate discussion, collaboration and planning as well the design and development of a 'community channel', a multimedia website to be operated by individuals with experience of mental health problems through a global network of mental health consumer groups.  Mentalympian is a respectful and strength-based term which describes an individual who competes against stigma, prejudice and/or discrimination by voluntarily disclosing that he or she has personally experienced a mental health problem.  Mentalympians draws heavily on Bandura’s (1997) model of self-efficacy which asserts the role of individual volitional thought processes, particularly self-efficacy beliefs, on determining human action. It also draws on the considerable literature in relation to consumer self-stigma, particularly the work of Corrigan, Larson and Rusch (2009), whose research confirms the importance of interaction and group identity on boosting self-efficacy and recovery for marginalised groups.  This presentation will give participants all the training they need to become involved in Mentalympians.  Learning objectives: TheMHS participants will learn how to get involved in a world-first innovation in mental health consumer advocacy. Mentalympians is a new approach to fighting stigma and creating new opportunities for self-expression and recovery. Consumer self-efficacy and recovery are paramount in effecting quality mental health care.  This presentation will review the evidence which supports this and demonstrate a new and exciting internet platform designed specifically to enable consumers to fight self-stigma and build self-efficacy.  References: Bandura, A. (1997) Self-Efficacy: the Exercise of Control. New York: W.H. Freeman.  Corrigan, P., Larson, J. & Rϋsch, N. (2009) Self-stigma and the “why try” effect: impact on life goals and evidence-based practices.