Disrupting Stigma: How Understanding, Empathy, and Connection Can Improve Outcomes for Families Affected by Substance Use and Mental Disorders

Disrupting Stigma: How Understanding, Empathy, and Connection Can Improve Outcomes for Families Affected by Substance Use and Mental Disorders
Posted 12/19/2022

The stigma surrounding child abuse and neglect and parental substance use and mental health disorders can affect the attitudes of health-care, treatment, child welfare, court, and other professionals; family and friends; and the person with the substance use or mental health disorder. Negative attitudes toward parents with substance use and/or mental health disorders can impede their access to services and supports as well as exacerbate disparities in access to services and outcomes for traditionally underserved communities, including Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and other identities; and those living in poverty. This new brief from the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, Disrupting Stigma: How Understanding, Empathy, and Connection Can Improve Outcomes for Families Affected by Substance Use and Mental Disorders, provides strategies to reduce stigma in interactions, expectations, and policies affecting families that are based on data gleaned from best practices in the field and a thorough review of the literature. It also proposes the following strategies for overcoming stigma among professionals working with parents with substance use disorders and their families.