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StigmaBusters Alert:  December 8, 2006

Dear fellow StigmaBusters,

It’s been a great year for StigmaBusters! As we look forward to 2007, we also look back on a year of accomplishments, which we highlight below.

It was through the generous financial support of people like you that NAMI was able to step up its efforts to fight stigma in 2006, and for that we say thank you.

If you have never made a financial contribution in support of NAMI's work, or have not done so this year, we hope that you will take the opportunity to do so now. 2007 will provide many more opportunities for NAMI to raise its voice, take a stand, and "knock out" stigma. But we cannot do it without your support. Please make a donation today.

2006 Highlights:

  • More than 20,000 people are now subscribed our monthly alerts.
  • With the participation of NAMI StigmaBusters, the National Anti-Stigma Campaign  was launched, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Advertising Council. Public service announcements (PSAs) are available for use in local communities. For the first time in history, the authority of the federal government is being put behind a sustained national PSA campaign to reduce stigma and encourage support of people with mental illnesses. Special congratulations to NAMI’s In Our Own Voice  presenters who are a model for the campaign’s grassroots civic education.
  • NAMI presented StigmaBuster strategy and tactics in a teleconference  sponsored by the ADS Center. (Resource Center to Address Discrimination & Stigma).
  • Complaints to ABC-TV and the FOX-TV are believed to have contributed to network decisions to cancel the heavily stigmatizing comedy Crumbs and the reality show Unanimous. Several companies took StigmaBuster concerns seriously and pulled advertising from the shows’ time slots.
  • NAMI worked with the Entertainment Industries Council to produce a guide on bipolar disorder for producers, directors and screenwriters, as part of additional efforts to overcome stigma in Hollywood. NAMI also presented CBS-TV with an award for its CBS Cares campaign on depression.
  • Protests of "haunted insane asylum" attractions received national attention at Halloween. Media coverage included the front page of the Chicago Tribune and CBS Radio. The themes of some attractions were changed, and even where not, public dialogue was achieved.
  • The "Obsessive Compulsive Action Figure" led to healthy dialogue among StigmaBusters about the uses of humor and whether mental illness is ever funny. An informal survey of readers revealed the following opinions:

50% -- Yes, but only when it’s not stigmatizing in nature; i.e., making fun of the illness, not the person, and especially if it educates others or helps a person cope.

25% -- Yes, but only when we are laughing among ourselves, consumers, families and therapists.

14% -- Never

11% -- Yes. Lighten up. Laughter is the best medicine.

  • Local action based on StigmaBuster models continue to bring success. NAMI Oregon recently protested a bank advertisement that used every stigmatizing word in the dictionary (e.g., crazy, bonkers, psycho, mental, screwy, wacko, etc.) Not only did the bank president apologize and cancel the ad, but the bank also made a contribution to the state organization and signaled a desire to partner with NAMI in the community.

That’s the kind of education StigmaBusters seek to achieve—moving from protest to partnership!

Won’t you help us continue to fight the fight in 2007?  We can’t do it without you!  Show your support today with a donation to NAMI.

Best wishes for the holidays,
Stella March

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