THE CAMPAIGN TO END STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESSES:
NASSAU COUNTY’S FIRST
One in five families encounter a mental health need every year. Yet less than half actually seek and receive the help to treat it. This startling fact, provided by the United States Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Illness, results from many factors: the lack of insurance, knowledge about mental illnesses and how to access services; plus the stigma and shame that many people feel about being labeled as mentally ill.
On September 21, 2006, the Nassau County Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities with the Mental Health Association of Nassau County launched its first major county-wide initiative to promote public awareness of mental illnesses and the effectiveness of treatment. The campaign is designed both to help eliminate the stigma and discrimination that people living with mental illness often face, and to encourage people to seek the help and treatment they need to live full, productive lives.
A $98,000 grant from County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi funded the Campaign to End Stigma and Discrimination. “This is an important step in helping people throughout the region learn the facts about mental illness,” Suozzi says, “and to foster equal acceptance of all of our community’s citizens.”
Displaying the banner theme, “1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness,” the movement uses posters, brochures, print and radio public service announcements, public speaking forums, media and community outreach to affirm: “Mental illness does not discriminate and neither should you.” As of February 2007, more than 1,000 campaign posters have been placed throughout the Nassau County region, and 6,000 brochures made available at many public places, including local libraries, hospitals and schools. The campaign materials feature real Nassau County consumers of mental health services, personalizing the message: “Give everyone a chance, with employment, with housing and most of all with respect.”
Nassau County’s population numbers 1.3 million. Using the Surgeon General’s statistic, 20 percent of those men, women and children – or 260,000 –experience a mental illness in any given year. The Campaign to End Stigma and Discrimination aims to improve the quality of life for us all – consumers, loved ones and other community residents. To learn more about the campaign, receive your free Guide to Understanding Mental Illness, or book a speaking engagement for your local school, workplace, club or other public forum, call (516) 504-HELP now. As the posters state, “You can make a difference.”
For Campaign updates, click here
Also check out FAQ's About Mental Illness.