We’ve come a little way in reducing the stigma that’s associated with mental illness, but not nearly far enough. Consider these results pulled from a public attitude survey in Tarrant County, Texas, conducted by the county’s Mental Health Connection and the University of North Texas in Denton to determine the community’s view of mental illness:
- More than 50 percent believe major depression might be caused by the way someone was raised, while more than one in five believe it is “God’s will.”
- More than 50 percent believe major depression might result from people “expecting too much from life,” and more than 40 percent believe it is the result of a lack of willpower.
- More than 60 percent said an effective treatment for major depression is to “pull yourself together.”
Unfortunately, these beliefs are often held by those closest to us — by the very people from whom we so desperately want support.
Every now and then I come across a group of people working tirelessly to reduce the stigma and like to feature their work.
Strength In Our Voices is a nonprofit organization started by a group of young, diverse adults who have experienced stigma associated with mental health – in their own journey or in the journey of friends and families. Challenged by those experiences, they felt compelled to work toward eliminating stigma in creative ways: open dialogue, education, empowerment, and public events.
Their next event is their flagship charity event on May 6th, SiOV’s Second Annual Summer of Strength. Last year the organization raised enough money to bring an evidence-based teen suicide prevention program, Sources of Strength (SoS), to McLean High School in Fairfax County.
This year’s event will be held at the Rosewood Hotel in Georgetown, DC. They are dedicating the funds to two initiatives:
- Bringing Sources of Strength to Longfellow Middle School, which feeds into McLean High School. By further integrating SoS into the community, they believe this will make a lasting mark in the high rates of teen suicide that this community has faced.
- Funding an SiOV Director to become a certified SoS regional director. This will enable SiOV to bring prevention programs to multiple schools in the future at a fraction of the cost, and also free up SiOV funds to expand their reach into additional forms of programming in the future.