I recently had the opportunity and honor to speak as a panelist on Stigma at Northeastern University, as part of a Nurse Hackathon. 

Here are a few take aways from that experience:

1. Nurses are amazing people who are doing their best in caring for individuals and families affected by  the opioid crisis. Stigma and the residue created by stigma, was mentioned several times during separate panel discussions. The question of how to reduce stigma was a lively discussion, and I am encouraged by what I heard. I would like to outline my personal perspective and invite further exploration by those who are interested.

2. The first recognition in shifting stigma is that all human beings have value, spiritual value, and they should be treated with the reverence that demands. 

3. There is more than enough government money to fund the caregivers needed to contain and minimize this crisis; it will take much more political will and compassion than is currently being offered.

4. Stigma is a process of de-humanizing individuals and/or groups, it is a method of making it culturally acceptable to neglect, shame, humiliate, and abuse people. It is a defense or offense action towards anything or anyone that makes you confront your fear, shame, anger, jealousy, greed, lust, disgust, and delusion. It is sadly much easier to blame the one who is already suffering, than to act wisely and compassionately and solve the crisis.

5. Nurses truly want to solve the crisis and the suffering, and they are being affected by burnout more and more often as they push against a system that continues to stigmatize instead of empower.

I am after being part of this conversation very hopeful and inspired by my fellow panelists; there is work to do and there is a willingness to make change happen. In my next post I will dive deeper into stigma and potential ways of reducing it.