change, depression

change the stigma attached to mental health

simply stephen / February 15, 2011

Part 2 of 2 in a series on the stigma of mental health

The stigma attached to mental health is a huge barrier to recovery for anyone suffering from a mental disorder. The last article discussed the stigma of mental health and outcome as a result of poor treatments and misconceptions of depression and other mood and mental disorders. Today it’s time to take a look at solutions and progress. It’s time to get proactive and participate in change!

Recently many celebrities and well know figures have come out of the proverbial closet to discuss mental health. Many have set up programs, written books or appeared on national shows to bring awareness and become a catalyst for treatment and “the treatment” of mental disorders. I won’t go into detail on them, there are hundreds of them but let’s look at what a few have done to see how you can help.

programs for awareness on mental health

United States

Glenn Close, well known Academy award winner is discussing mental disorders and promoting change with the organization bring change 2 mind and there are many ways you can support them. They resolve to bring change and reduce the stigma attached to mental health by pledging to the following principles.

  1. speak up – whenever and wherever you can share your story
  2. spread the word – facilitate interaction with people that are affected by mental illness
  3. support research – help companies that are researching change and treatment
  4. get involved – any way you can, volunteer, write about it, donate, raise money

First Lady Rosalyn Carter has set up the Carter Foundation and has a program dedicated to mental awareness and change in health issues.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (Nami) has a program called StigmaBusters.

United Kingdom

Several interesting programs popped up when I did my research on this. A leading charity, supported by the UK Government called rethink has been raising awareness and supporting programs on mental health issues for over 30 years.

One of the programs they high lighted was called Time to Change, their mantra “let’s end mental health discrimination” after a surprising study on dating and finding a flat mate revealed that once a prospect was made aware of a mental health issue, the interest declined by 50 to 81%. Now that’s dramatic.


Margaret Trudeau the wife of Canada’s former Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau has spoken openly as an advocate for mental health issues. She has recently written a book called Changing My Mind telling her story and the truth about mental illness.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CAMH) has several programs supporting change and advocacy on mental health awareness including:

  • Human Rights Commission
  • Independent Living Resource Center
  • Legal Aid
  • Suicide, Education and endless programs

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has a great program called Opening Minds helping people change how they see mental illness.


A well supported program, and certainly one of the best structured and supported charity sites I found was the SANE Campaigns taking action to reduce stigma in the media.  They have other resources, tools and links too.

what can you do to change the stigma attached to mental health?

Following the advice from the many programs listed above is a good start. Going Local is also advised. Different communities and cultures have different programs and levels of acceptance. The methods may be different in your region. Find out how first!

Your actions speak louder than your words…though speaking out is a pretty good idea too. Here’s a quick recap of what you can do:

  1. spread the word – find and join one of the programs listed above, spread the word any way you can
  2. get treatment – don’t neglect your right to a healthy and happy life, educate on the proper treatment required and available
  3. find support – find support groups to keep busy, active and social

Bottom line here…get treatment, speak out and make changes. It’s time we reduced the stigma attached to mental health disorders.

5 thoughts on “change the stigma attached to mental health

  1. You are doing a wonderful job. I too, am trying to do whatever I can to get people to talk about
    mental illness freely and thus get rid of the stigma. I live in Israel and am very active on
    this subject.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Jill…Thanks for the encouragement. As someone that has felt the backlash from the stigma attached to mental illness and various social aspects of life, I’m very passionate about raising awareness. It’s time we even the playing field and create a more accepting, compassionate society that values any human.

    What are some of the things you are doing in Israel? Do you have a website or blog? Perhaps you would like to write a guest post on your experiences and results.

    Kind regards,

  3. Jill…sorry for the delay. At the end of each year I take time to recharge and this year stretched well into January. I am now getting back into the swing of things. I would be honoured if you wanted to write a guest post on cope with life. In fact, it is my hope to add many more guest posts as a regular item this year to hear different perspectives and gain new insights. Had a look at your site…loved it. For anyone interested take a look at Jill’s site – Jill’s Experience with Mental Health. It’s nice to see supportive parents. Thanks for dropping by.

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