Transformative Topics


Welcome to May’s edition of Transformative Topics, a series where we feature TCR research and researchers in a topical area of consumer, environmental or societal well-being. This month we start off our Transformative Topics series by bringing awareness to mental health given that it is Mental Health Awareness Month in the US.


From addiction to dementia to schizophrenia, almost 1 billion people worldwide suffer from a mental disorder. These numbers, which have increased during the global COVID-19 pandemic, tend to be higher among women and people of color. Poor mental health is estimated to cost the world economy over $2.5 trillion per year in poor health and reduced productivity.  Increasing acknowledgement of the important role mental health plays in achieving global development goals is reflected by the inclusion of mental health in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Despite some progress, people with mental health conditions still frequently experience discrimination and stigma, leading some to argue that stigma is the most important issue in the mental health field. We begin this month’s Transformative Topics, then, with a foundational article on stigma and the marketplace. Emerging from the 2015 TCR conference, which included two tracks dedicated to consumer stigma, lead author Dr. Ann Mirabito explains what inspired the work,


“Stigma is painful. People who are stigmatized get labeled and pushed away.  They’re seen as “less than” in the eyes of the stigmatizers. We see people stigmatized because of groups they are part of (e.g., race or gender), for their physical traits (e.g., body shape, freckles), and for their so-called character traits (e.g., LGBTQ, far right/left political ideologies, alcoholism).” 

Ann admits that marketing has contributed to these stigmatized attitudes, but believes the marketplace has the potential to destigmatize as well,


“Sadly, marketing has its share of responsibility for stigmatizing others in the way promotions and products glorify an ideal body type or income level. In this paper, we create a framework for understanding how stigma is perpetuated at individual, marketplace, and societal levels. It’s exciting to see so much of our colleagues in marketing and management investigating stigma in conferences and publications."

We invite you to find the paper at the TCR website here. You can also search the TCR archives for other publications on mental health, diversity and intersectionality. Just type a keyword or author into the search box here

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