National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI StigmaBusters Alert: April 10, 2006
Unanimous: All Thumbs Down
"This isn't a game, it's psychological warfare," said Richard on April 5, 2006, at the end of the third episode of Unanimous, a Fox-TV "reality show" in which contestants living in an underground bunker need to agree who should receive $1.5 million. So far, the money has been cut in half, because they can't.
The show also represents blatant, irresponsible exploitation of stigma. In the second episode, Richard became an "outcast" after it was revealed that he once was hospitalized on "a mental ward" (apparently for alcoholism or depression).
Initially, there was hope that the show would show the reality of enlightenment and education battling ignorance and prejudice -- indeed, one contestant declared that mental illness was "no different than a common cold." But the show has degenerated into a "stigma fest." In the third episode, contestants described Richard and exaggerated his behavior using the following language.
The show's Web site asks: "Has Richard driven everyone crazy?" It also advertises the show's commercial sponsor: Burger King.
Let's tell Fox-TV and Burger King to stop the stigma.
NAMI does not sponsor boycotts. They are not an effective tactic. However, the Burger King slogan is "Have It Your Way." Personally, I intend to tell them that I won't buy any Whoppers unless I can have them without stigma.
Nicole Bernard, Director
Burger King does not accept public emails. It is especially important that short, handwritten notes be sent to Mr. Rucker or phone messages left with his office.
Voice Award Nominations: Consumers
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is still seeking nominations for the Consumer category of its annual Voice Awards. All nominations must be received by Friday, April 21.
This is a good opportunity for NAMI leaders to nominate In Our Own Voice participants. Self-nominations also are welcome.
The awards are for consumers who have 1) personally demonstrated that recovery is possible, 2) participated in efforts to reduce discrimination and stigma, and 3) made a positive impact on their community, workplace, or school. Nominations should be sent to email@example.com. They also can be sent by regular mail to:
Nominations should include:
Old vs. New Medication: Stories Wanted
NAMI wants to hear from consumers or family members describing the difference that newer antipsychotic medications for schizophrenia have made in their lives. Please send your short, personal story to firstname.lastname@example.org, including your name, age, city and state, telephone number, diagnosis, treatment history, and relevant details.
NAMI will consider stories for use in testimony, media interviews, or other advocacy efforts. All submissions remain confidential. No story will be used without further contact and direct authorization.
Stella March, National Coordinator