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Combating the stigma of mental illness.

How you can combat the stigma:

1. Share your experience with mental illness. Your story can convey to others that having a mental illness is nothing to be embarrassed about.

2. Help people with mental illness reenter society. Support their efforts to obtain housing and jobs.

3. Respond to false statements about mental illness or people with mental illnesses. Many people have wrong and damaging ideas on the subject. Accurate facts and information may help change both their ideas and actions.


* Do use respectful language

* Do emphasize abilities, not limitations

* Do tell someone if they express a stigmatizing attitude


* Don't portray successful persons with disabilities as super human

* Don't use generic labels such as retarded, or the mentally ill

* Don't use terms like crazy, lunatic, manic depressive, or slow functioning

Myth: People who need psychiatric care should be locked away in institutions

Fact: Today, most people can lead productive lives within their communities thanks to a variety of supports, programs, and/or medications.

Myth: A person who has had a mental illness can never be normal.

Fact: People with mental illnesses can recover and resume normal activities. For example, Mike Wallace of "60 Minutes", who has clinical depression, has received treatment and today leads an enriched and accomplished life.

Myth: Mentally ill persons are dangerous.

Fact: The vast majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent. In the cases when violence does occur, the incidence typically results from the same reasons as with the general public such as feeling threatened or excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs.

Myth: People with mental illnesses can work low-level jobs but aren't suited for really important or responsible positions

Fact: People with mental illnesses, like everyone else, have the potential to work at any level depending on their own abilities, experience and motivation.
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Author:Hitchcock, Greg
Publication:The Informed Constituent (Albany, NY)
Date:Mar 1, 2005
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