SECRETARY SHALALA CALLS ON ALL AMERICANS TO HELP END DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS
HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala today urged all Americans to celebrate Mental Illness Awareness Week -- October 3 to 9 -- by taking a stand against the stigma that still surrounds these increasingly treatable disorders. To help she announced that HHS' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will make available a new anti-stigma poster and other materials designed to help spread the word that people with mental illness are people first.
These new efforts build on recommendations from the White House Conference on Mental Health held last June and will help set the stage for the upcoming release of the first ever Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health.
"Because of the fear and stigma of mental illness, many people who could benefit from mental health care never state their need or seek out services," Secretary Shalala said. "In fact, of the millions of Americans who experience a mental disorder in any given year, less than one-fourth of them -- around 12.5 million citizens -- actually seek mental health care. Yet never before have treatments been safer and more effective.
"Every day, in every community, millions of Americans and their families confront mental illness. Because of the fear and misunderstanding surrounding mental illness, too many people have had to face this challenge alone and isolated from the support and services they need. It is time all Americans work together and replace stigma with acceptance, ignorance with understanding, and fear with new hope for the future," said Tipper Gore, President Clinton's mental health policy advisor. Mrs. Gore chaired the first-ever White House Conference on Mental Health in June 1999.
Since the inception of Mental Illness Awareness Week in 1983, the mental health community has used the first full week in October as a time to further educate the public about mental disorders and further understanding about people with mental illness.
"Our goal is to raise awareness, educate people about mental illness and dispel negative preconceptions," said SAMHSA administrator Nelba Chavez, Ph.D. "All Americans need to know that quality mental health services can help prevent problems from compounding and promise recovery for many people who have serious mental illness."
SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) developed the poster and other materials being highlighted. CMHS Director Bernard S. Arons, M.D. said, "We must use every opportunity to educate the public about stigma and its impact on people with a mental illness and their efforts to llead fully productive lives."
Materials that are available to help educate the public include:
Anti-Stigma Poster, which delivers the message, "Know me as a person, not by my mental illness."
Anti-Stigma Fact Sheet: Do You Know the Facts?, which provides some of the latest data on mental health, as well as some do's and don'ts of stigma.
Before You Label People, Look at their Content, a brochure that discusses the power of word -- to poison or heal.
Mental Illness Is Not a Full Time Job, a brochure that discusses strategies for people with mental illness that will assist them in finding and keeping a job.
Your Child's Mental Health-What Every Family Should Know, a brochure that discusses how mental health is an essential component of overall health, provides parents and other care givers information on a variety of early signs that may point to a possible mental health problem in a child or teenager and offers suggestions on seeking help.
Nurturing Your Child's Mental Health, a bookmark highlights ways to encourage your child in a positive and loving manner.
The informational package and poster may be obtained free of charge by calling toll-free CMHS' Knowledge Exchange Network (KEN) at 1-800-789-2647.
Note: For other HHS Press Releases and Fact Sheets pertaining to the subject of this announcement, please visit our Press Release and Fact Sheet search engine at: http://www.os.dhhs.gov/news/press/.