Unjudge someone: SHW masters students spend time in the "Human Library"

Published: 11 May 2023

Reporting back on a "Human Library" event attended by students from SHW's Global Mental Health MSc programme which aimed to challenge stereotypes and address stigmatising beliefs

The Global Mental Health (GMH) Team secured funding from the MVLS College Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Fund to hold an event facilitated by the Human Library as part of the Global Mental Health MSc course "Mental Health and Disability: International Law and Policy".

Collage of two photos relating to the Human Library project, with text reading

The Human Library Organisation (https://humanlibrary.org) provides an international learning platform that enables safe and confidential dialogue between volunteers representing a stigmatised group (i.e. "Books") and learners (i.e. "Readers")

Drawing on personal experience, Books answer questions put to them by small groups of Readers, helping to challenge stereotypes and stigmatising beliefs. The session aims to encourage those attending to "unjudge someone".

The event was held on the 01 March 2023 and around 20 students attended. Six Books and Three Librarians engaged in the session with diversity areas including:

  • mental illness
  • religion
  • physical disability
  • gang membership
  • survivor of abuse
  • transgender
  • eating disorder

Feedback from those who completed the evaluation questionnaire was very positive, with 94% of students (15/16) either strongly agreeing or agreeing that the event was informative and made them reflect on their personal views. One student reported:

"I thoroughly enjoyed this event. I had never heard of this organisation before and I think that it is an incredible concept. This was easily one of my favorite class days. I can't think of anything in particular that could've been done better."

With thanks to the MVLS EDI Fund for supporting the event and Dr Lynsay Crawford and Dr Breda Cullen who introduced us to this organisation.

Julie Langan-Martin
Programme Director, MSc in Global Mental Health
SHW Athena Swan Champion 

Jack Melson
Lecturer in Mental Health, School of Health and Wellbeing
Chair of SHW Athena Swan staff consultation group

First published: 11 May 2023

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