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NAMI StigmaBusters Alert: February 17, 2005


Hooray For Stella

NAMI is proud of Stella March who coordinates our StigmaBusters program. For those who have long wondered who the wizard is behind our alerts, please take a peek at "Busting Through: Leading the Fight Against Stigma," published in the latest issue of Schizophrenia Digest.

We thank Schizophrenia Digest for permission to reprint the article. Please also visit bp magazine, its companion publication for people living with bipolar disorder. They're both worth reading regularly.

Urgent Action: NBC TV's "Committed"

Airing on Tuesdays at 9:30 ET, "Committed" is a new comedy about the relationship between "Nate," described as "obsessive" and "Marni," who is "eccentric." No connection to mental illness occurred until this week, when Nate took Marni to visit his mother (Valerie Harper) for the first time.

Nate's mother was shown living in a plush mental hospital or group home, referred to alternately as an "asylum," "mental spa" and "loony bin." She is an "in your face " social activist, involuntarily committed because she threw red paint on a gorilla at the zoo to protest its wearing fur. Nate was reluctant to introduce Marni to his mother because he is "ashamed of her." During their visit, Nate's mother dismisses a woman who brings a silver tray with a glass of water and a pill, saying "Not now, Olivia, I'm talking." To great laughter, a big burly attendant dressed in white arrives to make sure she takes the pill. He runs his finger under her tongue to make sure she isn't faking. Marni sneaks Nate's mother out of the home in order to win her friendship and takes her to lunch. "She really enjoyed using real utensils again," she tells Nate. After his mother is returned to the home, Nate says, "It's make your own sundae night, so she's happy." He expresses reluctance to have children: "The crazy stops here!"

Please contact NBC and the show's producers:

*The plot line about Nate's "crazy" mother is hurtful and outrageous.
*Stop making people with mental illness and their treatment the butt of jokes.
*Stop trivializing serious issues like involuntary commitment, suicide risk, and other painful traumas that people endure in real life.
*Stop undermining the U.S. Surgeon General and President Bush's New Freedom campaign against stigma.

Producers and Writers:

Jeff Zucker
NBC Universal TV Group
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112

Postal Express: Keep Hope Alive

It may take years, but the U.S. Postal Service has under consideration the "Silver Ribbon" Campaign proposal for a postage stamp to educate people about mental illness and help eliminate stigma. Only one public awareness stamp is issued each year. The process sometimes can take a decade.

Help keep the dream alive. Contact USPS to make the points:

*Don't forget the "Silver Ribbon" proposal for a public awareness postage stamp on mental illness.
*How long must we wait?
*Support the U.S. Surgeon General and President Bush's New Freedom Commission campaign against stigma.

Letters by regular mail with short personal stories about stigma have the most impact. But questions also can be submitted through the USPS Web site.

Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee and Stamp Development Office
U. S. Postal Service
1735 North Lynn Street, Room 5013
Arlington, VA 22209-6432

The Bad News Bear

Valentine's Day has passed. The good news is that the Vermont Teddy Bear (VTB) Company will no longer produce the "Crazy For You Bear" that came in a straitjacket.

The bad news is that the company kept selling it until their inventory was exhausted.

However, its CEO had to resign from the board of trustees of Vermont's largest hospital after the hospital denounced "any action that is demeaning to our patients, makes light of their suffering, or perpetuates the stigma of mental illness."

Vermont mental health advocates observed: "The public dialogue that emerged across the country has produced significant benefits by virtue of identifying the challenges of cultural change."

Contact VTB one last time. Ask them to clean up the damage. Ask them to make good on their promise to work for public education against stigma and discrimination, locally and nationwide.

The Vermont Teddy Bear Company
6655 Shelburne Road
Shelburne, VT 05482
1-888-502-1715 (toll free)

Thank you for being our eyes and ears. Please continue to send reports of stigma to Stella at But remember to congratulate her on her feature profile in Schizophrenia Digest!


Bob Carolla
NAMI Communications Director


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