SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), the Sacramento County Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS) is promoting steps local residents can take to get involved in its countywide mental health stigma and discrimination reduction effort, the ”Mental Illness: It’s not always what you think” project.
The ”Mental Illness: It’s not always what you think” project aims to promote messages of hope and recovery, encourage conversation around mental illness, and underscore that mental illness can affect anyone. Roughly one in every four adults and one in five children will experience a diagnosable mental disorder during their lifetime. Here in Sacramento County it is estimated that nearly 355,000 residents live with mental illness, but research shows that only one-third of those individuals will seek professional help primarily due to the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.
“Stigma is a major barrier to people seeking help when they need it,” said Mary Ann Carrasco, deputy director of Sacramento County’s Division of Behavioral Health Services. “That’s why Mental Illness Awareness Week is extremely important. We want people to learn more about mental health issues and start conversations within their communities and discuss mental illness just like any other health issue. The more people know about mental illness, the better they can help themselves or help their loved ones get the help and support they need.”
There are several ways to help reduce stigma and get involved with the project:
1. Join the Stop Stigma Sacramento Speakers Bureau. The project’s Speakers Bureau offers an opportunity for people living with a mental illness, or their friends and family members, to share their experiences that help promote positive attitudes about living with mental illness and that share messages of wellness, hope and recovery.
2. Encourage youth, ages 13-21, to participate in the Youth PSA Contest and submit a 30-second video discussing mental health in a positive way that inspires hope. Entries are due by December 21, 2012.
3. Share your personal story of hope and recovery at StopStigmaSacramento.org
to help stop stigma and discrimination toward people and families living with mental illness. Telling your story may encourage others to share their experiences and may end the silence that contributes to isolation and shame.
4. Learn more about reducing stigma and discrimination at StopStimaSacramento.org
and follow the project on Twitter and ‘like’ the project on Facebook.
MIAW, sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), is observed nationally Oct. 7-13 and provides an opportunity to increase awareness and reduce stigma around mental illnesses.
For more information on Sacramento County’s mental health efforts, please visit www.stopstigmasacramento.org. Residents can also call 2-1-1 Sacramento (2-1-1 or TTY 916-446-1434), a free information and referral service for the community. Calls are always confidential and interpreters are available.