Look around you – at work, at church, at the grocery store, in the park, during your next family gathering. Someone you know is probably living with mental illness right now and you do not even know about it. Why? Because the shame and discrimination that surrounds mental illness can keep people from speaking out or seeking help.
No one is immune from mental illness. Roughly one in every four adults and one in five children will experience a diagnosable mental disorder during their lifetime. Mental illness affects every ethnic, racial, cultural, economic and religious group and impacts individuals of all ages and genders. In Sacramento County alone, it is estimated that nearly 355,000 residents are living with a mental illness, but research shows that only one-third of those individuals will seek professional help because of stigma and discrimination.
While mental illness does not discriminate, often times people do. Day in and day out, those who live with mental illness have to deal with discrimination in most, if not all, areas of their lives, from housing, to employment, health care and the media. As a community, we can do better. We must do better.
As part of its Mental Health Services Act initiative, the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Behavioral Health Services (DHHS/DBHS) is launching a countywide mental health promotion and stigma and discrimination reduction project, to fundamentally alter negative attitudes and perceptions about mental illness and emotional disturbance. This work will underscore that mental health issues affect almost everyone and will promote community health and wellness resources, and community support available throughout the county to foster hope and recovery.
To kick off this project, DHHS/DBHS is inviting the Sacramento County community to the “Changing Attitudes, Changing Lives, Promoting Health and Wellness Celebration” on Jan. 21, 2012, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at the Sam Pannell Community Center (2450 Meadowview Road, Sacramento). The kickoff celebration is an opportunity to raise awareness and spread hope about mental health issues and resources. Attendees will have the opportunity to interact with various community service and health organizations, and take advantage of available health screening services. The event is free and open to everyone. All are welcome and invited to attend.
For more information about the mental health anti-stigma project or the Health and Wellness Celebration, please contact 916-442-2331. If you or someone you know is living with mental illness and would like more information about resources available, please call 2-1-1 or 916-498-1000 (TTY: 916-446-1434) or visit www.StopStigmaSacramento.org.