Help Build the Mental Health Movement

By Laura Greenstein | Mar. 29, 2017

 

Together, we are a movement. Our movement explains what it really means to experience mental illness. Our movement shows people experiencing mental illness that they are not alone and there is hope. While it’s a slow process, our movement is becoming louder and more persistent every time a celebrity speaks out, an article is published or an individual shares their personal story. Our movement is growing, strengthening and becoming more visible.

We need to keep this momentum going. The harder we work, the more people will learn, understand and empathize. The societal perception of mental illness won’t change if we don’t work to change it. So, here are just a few ways we can continue to push our cause forward:

With Words

Start conversations. To reduce mental illness-related stigma, we need to feel comfortable having conversations about it. The more we talk about mental health conditions, the more normalized it becomes. Starting the conversation is the first step.

Correct stigmatizing language. Language won’t evolve unless people realize their words are hurtful. Calling someone “insane” or “crazy,” defining a person by their condition or using mental health adjectives are all harmful habits that perpetuate stigma. If you hear someone using stigmatizing language, let them know.

Share your story. Sharing mental health struggles helps spread the word that mental illness is real. And sharing mental health recovery stories helps spread the word that if you live with a mental illness, you can get better.

Become an author. One of the best ways to spread awareness is through writing. Articles circulate all over social media and the Internet. They can be seen by thousands, even millions, of people. If you have something to say or a piece of advice, don’t hesitate to share your wisdom with the world-wide web.

With Actions

Represent the cause. There are many ways to show that mental health is an important cause to you, but it’s even more powerful to make that dedication visible. Consider wearing the NAMI x Lokai bracelet, a bracelet that represents the highs and lows of mental health. Lokai created this piece to let everyone know: “We're in this together, so don't walk through your toughest day alone.” If you catch someone eyeing your bracelet, tell them what it stands for.

Educate. Teach people about mental illness by becoming a NAMI In Our Own Voice presenter or teaching NAMI Ending the Silence to a group of young people. Be the one who teaches someone struggling that what they’re going through isn’t their fault and how they can get help.

Advocate. With the current mental health system, not everyone is getting the services and treatment they need. When you see an opportunity to influence your local government about mental health legislation, call, email or tweet at them to let them know the importance of mental health care.

Volunteer. There are so many ways to get involved—volunteer for an information line or crisis line, walk or volunteer at your local NAMIWalk, join a NAMI on Campus club—it’s up to you how you can support the movement.

Your effort to end stigma, to advocate for mental health reform, and to build better lives for those affected by mental illness are the reasons why our movement is growing stronger every day. We appreciate your support and everything you do to make our cause visible.

Comments
Torea
My son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia 4yrs ago at 19. 2yrs of inadequate treatment and lack of funding in our local city, my son was sentenced to 20yrs in prison! No passed criminal records, high school graduate, some college and multiple jobs trying to live a normal life, it became overwhelming he had a major episode, someone he didn't know in the public got hurt. Instead of receiving mental treatment he was railroaded in the criminal system and threatened with life if he went to trail. He never understood what he did and why he's in jail, since he has been tazed and isolated for months all for trying to get meds so he can sleep and not be paranoid about being around murders and dangerous inmates! Lack of treatment means a public safety risk. As well as a danger to himself. Nothing is taking serious until there is a victim! Then the system failed both victims, the one hurt and the one who is sick!
4/7/2017 8:22:23 PM

Barbara Mahoney
I am a NAMI Connection Facilitator and NAMI IOOV Presenter. I agree with changing our name and I have mentioned this often during my nine years as a Peer Support Advocate.
4/6/2017 4:15:46 PM

Michele Flander
I agree with Sue, the name needs to change. I was thinking, "National Alliance on Mental Health" because I am an IOOV presenter and I'm embarrassed telling people I know I work for them, having to tell them the title. I also thinks it puts the audience off when you tell them right off that you are ill, when I have another view on the situation. I see it from a shaman point of view from another culture. A large way I recovered was not seeing myself as ill on the level of psychology, but gifted on the level of spirituality to help humanity heal, as said at my New Thought church.
4/4/2017 11:31:37 AM

Mike
My wife are so happy to have participated in the Family to Family class presented through our local chapter of NAMI. Our son came back form Afghanistan changed by the violence and being shunned by his own army unit. He has been hospitalized twice. Once through his own admittance into the VA and another time where I had to force him into a private hospital against his will. He is 28 and not really able to make it on his own. We are struggling everyday with trying to keep him safe and at the same time supporting him financially. NAMI Family to Family got us started on the path to understanding and the Dry Hootch (local Vet org) has kept us going with the support of others who are experiencing the same type of issues with their sons/daughters.
4/3/2017 9:02:29 AM

Joan
I agree strongly with Sue. We need to change our name & Sue's suggestion is right on the point.
4/2/2017 8:55:48 AM

michelle
I have been diagnosed with bipolar I disorder since 2006 and have been stable on medication for the past 7 years. I am currently a student at a college of pharmacy and in one of our classes, our next topic is mental illness. I have reached out to the professor to have a special session where I describe my personal struggle with this illness and demonstrate that I have managed to still achieve great things. As one of the highest performing students in my class, I know I can help dispel assumptions that people with mental illness are incapable of being successful. We can live normal lives when properly managing our health. This is important for everyone to understand, but especially future health professionals such as my classmates.
4/1/2017 10:36:14 PM

Chris Florentz
The Family-to-Family 12-week support program in Bucks County, Pa. was a powerful experience. There we were, a group of complete strangers who shared a common experience - having a loved one with a mental illness. We learned so much from the program and from each other, and I came to care for each and every person in the group, including their loved ones who I'd never met, and our wonderful co-facilitators, Sally and Bonnie.
4/1/2017 3:49:38 PM

Tina Alderman
So many people are unaware and uneducated when it comes to mental illness. But being mentally is as real as having cancer or heart disease. If left untreated for too long it can kill you. The difference is mental illness is so much harder and takes longer to diagnose and treat. Unfortunately, we live in a world of impatient and judgemental people.

I'm legally physically and mentally disabled. I've finally got the right combination of medication and therapy. I've been able to maintain a level that I could comfortably live with, then the last few months my apartment starting becoming inhabitable and the management did very little to assist me due to they're prodicall. Long story short, they put me through unnecessary trama and loss, now I'm filing a lawsuit.
4/1/2017 2:21:49 AM

Paul
Wholeheartedly agree with Laura's article and Sue's comment. Let's correct language from the top down and from the bottom up. We are all on the 'human' spectrum, after all, and brains are a part of every body, aren't they?
3/31/2017 8:34:45 PM

Stephanee Brown
I am so happy that I have found NAMI! I live with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression, Panic Disorder, and PTSD. It has been a tough battle, but I am not alone. Love volunteering and advocating for them! <3 #iamstigmafree #jointhemovement
3/31/2017 2:16:31 PM

antonia l banks
My name is Antonia Banks and my 19 year old son sits in a chesapeake va city jail cell because I had a TDO placed on him for his pyschosis and now the police officer pressed felony assault charges on my son 3 for assault and strangulation my son has never been violent pretty good kid and he can't help it if he has a mental illness I just ask who can we call if your only options are the police and they either kill you or you end up being charged its sad it needs to end mental illness shouldn't be a,crime or anything to be ashamed of people only seem to care when its their family the world would be a better place if people had more compassion now as a parent I feel as though its my fault and I let my son down now I have to fight for his life his freedom his dignity self respect
3/31/2017 6:17:45 AM

Geri Golinello
I find that at work there is discrimination when one needs to care for a child with a mental illness (Bipolar Disorder). Taking off from work is a necessity, but not as acceptable as it might be for another type of illness that does not carry a stigma.
3/30/2017 11:49:43 PM

Jessica ward
My fiance tried to commit suicide. He also has been hearing voices. Prayers n positive vibes please I am hurting n don't ko how to help him n help me
3/30/2017 7:18:57 PM

Virginia globis
i intend in the very near future to "tell my story"...the phoenix rising from the ashes......
Enough said,just wait...
3/30/2017 6:24:46 PM

***** Yates
It is time for the NAMI National and Local (Denton County TX to start kicking ass and taking names. We who have to provide support for family ones with a Mental Health Handicap are overburdened with the lack luster efforts of National, States and Local Health and Human Services. And now TWIT TRUMP is pushing the removal and reductions of funding is it absolutely necessary such actions are taken.

Stop being meager about a long term NATIONAL CRISIS!
3/30/2017 11:50:18 AM

Sarah
Managing my depressive disorder and dysthymia is my goal now. At age 55, I've finally learned that recovery, which means to me "no more meds", isn't possible. My depression is like juvenile onset diabetes. People manage that but recovery isn't possible; same thing with major depression and dysthymia. It's not helpful to give the impression that recovery from mental illness is possible; it's not like the flu.
3/30/2017 7:44:11 AM

Diana Lozano
I am an advocate for my grandson who suffers with Schizophrenia. I try to explain the illness to people that don't understand it as well as comment on blogs whenever possible.
3/30/2017 1:22:03 AM

Richard Smith
Dr. Insel retired Director of NIMH spoke at NAMI convention 2012 with the poignant comment of the need to study Neural Circuits. NIH/NIMH are devoted to that important inquiry. A tracking by NAMI of the ongoing development of Neurosciences is vital, yet seems to ne missing in your recent summary.
3/29/2017 9:15:02 PM

Lizanne Corbit
Wonderful read. Looking forward to more and more people continuing to help spread this important message. It is with individuals, using words and actions, every day that change can and does occur.
3/29/2017 8:10:02 PM

Sue
We should start with NAMI. In my opinion both "mental" and "illness" are inaccurate, negative, antiquated, and stigmatizing. The name of the organization needs to change. Maybe something like National Association for Brain Health?
3/29/2017 7:30:16 PM

lou
no help out there for special situations for families. the laws are not fear. especially hippa. 3 years now my son does not want to speak with me
3/29/2017 6:32:18 PM

Dora Delgado
I pray that voice's are heard .
3/29/2017 6:04:57 PM

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