Ms. Stella March
NAMI StigmaBusters, with its dedicated advocates across the country and around the world, are successfully fighting the pervasive and hurtful stigma that exists toward persons with mental illness -and- also commending print media, TV and films that send accurate messages to the public.
NAMI StigmaBusters now number 8,330. Numbers do count, so let your voice be heard.
This newly released film is based on a sci-fi novel with the same title. NAMI's Director of Communications saw the film and reports as follows:
This film was #1 for box office receipts for its first weekend and will probably continue to do well with the popularity of Spacey and Bridges plus a well-done sci-fi film.
We continue to receive many reports about news anchors and talk show hosts who still do not understand that mental illness is like any other medical disorder. They continue to make mental illness the butt of a joke.
Stigmabusters have expressed outrage at Jay Leno's opening monologue comments on October 8th, about the man (reported to have a mental illness) on an airplane en route to Chicago, who pounded on the cockpit door. The man was not hallucinating or delusional. He was in the real world and concerned about terrorist threats to the Sears Tower. Jay Leno's, reaction: The Taliban has their "crazies," and we have ours.
For this and his many previous insensitive references about mental illness, please send Jay Leno your own message:
Mental illnesses are biological brain disorders that strike one in five persons. A person with a mental illness deserves the same respect and dignity accorded to persons with all other disorders such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes, HIV, etc.
Celebrities who have publicly disclosed their mental illness include Mike Wallace, Rod Steiger and William Styron with clinical depression; Carrie Fisher, Kay Jamison, and Maurice Benard with bipolar disorder. Would Leno refer to them as "crazies?"
Please send your messages to:
JC Penney and Goody's Department Store responded to our letters, with an apology and withdrew t-shirts that featured offensive messages. J.C. Penney's shirt read "MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES." Goody's were emblazoned with "You say PSYCHO like it's a bad thing" and another with "PSYCHO WARD 24-7-666."
Maurice's Clothing Stores, whose t-shirt has the message "ESCAPED MENTAL PATIENT, STATE WARD" has not responded to our letter.
Maurice's Clothing Stores are now part of the American Retail Group (ARG), which is owned by a "secretive family" in the Netherlands. ARG has not responded to the letter faxed to their office in Georgia.
Please send letters to the following address. Perhaps more letters will produce a response.
StigmaBusters have sent messages to Target Stores and to Disguise Inc. to display outrage at the "Mental Patient" costume described in the October 16, 2001 Alert. Target Guest Relations responded with a form letter, apologizing for any offense, which was not intended. Messages also have been forwarded to Target Corporation officers and buyers. They claim they will remember our message and "watch for other merchandise that may carry similar offensive connotations." If you have seen the costume in other local outlets, you should educate the store managers.
Disguise Inc., a division of an international group and the world's largest costume company, designed and produced this costume titled "Mental Patient" (subtitled "Member of the Ward"). It is a canvas straight jacket with straps and a frightening "Hannibal Lecter" style facemask.
Benoit Pousset, president of Disguise Inc., stated that it was not their intention "to harm anyone in any way." Rather, their goal was "to increase the fun of Halloween, an increasingly popular holiday in the United States." "Please be assured that we will take your suggestions regarding our costumes under advisement," he said. Let's hope so. Let's also keep educating him.
Please send letters to:
Following our "How to Deal with Local Stigma" suggestions, and the model letter to Sit 'n Sleep in Los Angeles (previous Alert) we have received reports of successes from StigmaBusters in many states.
The offensive radio ad by Sit 'n Sleep was pulled within the week following our letter. StigmaBusters in many other cities have reported similar success in getting pullbacks and apologies for insensitive ads in local media publications. One member received a personal apology from a radio talk show, addressed to her daughter who is struggling with mental illness.
SPEAKING OUT DOES WORK - ADVERTISERS RESPOND TO LOCAL RESIDENTS WHEN THEY HEAR FROM YOU!
We are again including the "How to Deal With Local Stigma" fact sheet at the end of this Alert.
Promotional ads for up-coming TV shows, or soon to be released films, may often be exaggerated to capture the public attention and audience.
We can, and do, respond to ads which are insensitive to consumers and their families. However, in some cases the targeted TV episode or film may prove to be relatively harmless. For that reason, we do not necessarily send additional messages. For example, we sent messages about the Drew Carey final episode on May 23, 2001 which showed him in a straitjacket at the "nuthouse." Although advance promos on TV and in the TV Guide continued with the theme, that portrayal and language did not continue in the opening October episode.
"Overall approaches to stigma reduction involve programs of advocacy, public education, and contact with persons with mental illness through schools and other societal institutions..."
-- Report on Mental Illness by U.S.Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher
ACTION for STIGMA sighted in local newspaper/radio news reports, editorials or ads, billboards, or heard on TV news and talk show programs.
Affiliate members (with affiliate Presidents using their NAMI letterhead), professionals, providers and friends, need to contact by FAX, mail or phone:
Radio or TV station managers, newspaper publishers and editors, advertisers and sponsors. Sponsors do not want to lose their local customers. They are usually the first to change or withdraw their commercial. HOWEVER, DO WATCH FOR AND COMMEND ALL OF THE ABOVE FOR SUPPORTIVE ARTICLES, EDITORIALS, ETC.
PRO-ACTION TO CURB THE GROWTH OF LOCAL STIGMA
Outreach to civic/business organizations and the clergy. Contact Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, the League of Women Voters, PTAs, Neighborhood Homeowners Associations, your own clergy person, etc. Speak to them about your own story and/or distribute fact sheets about the hurts and harms of stigma.
Inform your local and State elected officials; from City Council members and Supervisors, to Assembly persons, State Senators and the Governor about the true facts about brain disorders before they make decisions about legislation and regulations affecting persons with mental illness. They need to understand the myths and misconceptions that perpetuate prejudice and stigma which results in the unjust discrimination against persons with mental illness in housing, employment, and education. Educate them about the need for funding so that all persons with a severe mental illness have access to treatment that works. In order for recovery to happen, treatment services must be made available.
Ask your Board of Education to follow U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher's report dealing with the importance of educating children in the classroom about mental illnesses. Children need to understand they must report the symptoms of mental illness just as they would for any other illness. Stigma arising from classmates' taunts using names like "pscyho," or "weirdo" keeps kids from seeking treatment. The adolescent suicide rate is rising alarmingly among young people with untreated clinical depression.
Most importantly, and for many this is most difficult-families need to speak out, in conversations about the illness of their loved one. Be as open about mental illnesses as you would if it were any other illness or disorder of the body. Unfortunately, keeping this as a family secret contributes to the stigma.
"Stigmatization of people with mental disorders is manifested by bias, distrust, stereotyping, fear, embarrassment, anger, and/or avoidance. Stigma leads the (public) to avoid living, socializing or working with, renting to, or employing people with mental disorders. . .it reduces access to resources and opportunities e.g., housing, jobs and leads to low self-esteem, isolation, and hopelessness. It deters the public from seeking, and wanting to pay for care. Stigma results in outright discrimination and abuse. More tragically, it deprives people of their dignity and interferes with their full participation in society"
-- Report on Mental Illness by U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher
As always, we need your eyes and ears to keep our alert on its mark to reduce stigma wherever and whenever it appears. We also appreciate your awareness of positive language and portrayals in the media. Thank you for your strong support.
Stella March, Coordinator
NAMI StigmaBusters Email Alert
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We look forward to hearing from you!
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