This campaign is produced by the Reduce Stigma Against Mental Illness Action Team which is part of the Behavioral Health Initiative and Northwest Community Health Innovation Region (NWCHIR). The Action Team has been working to reduce stigma against mental illness since November 2021. Stigma against mental illness is a major barrier to accessing services in the region. Residents are likely to avoid seeking the supports they need for fear of negative consequences, such as judgement from friends/family, unpleasant interactions with healthcare providers, or workplace fallout. Stigma can have powerful effects on individuals’ health, employment, and quality of life. Therefore, addressing stigma against mental illness in the region is a fast and effective way to improve residents’ quality of life.
Since the start of the project, the team has collected data from over 1000 local residents about their experience of stigma, interviewed locals with personal experiences with mental illness, and created an inspiring video from the resulting footage. They are in the midst of a social media campaign designed to educate the public about the prevalence of stigma in the region and to inspire them to make changes in their personal & professional lives to affect this. This campaign can be found on District Health Department #10’s Facebook Page and is intended for everyone, regardless of whether or not they have personal experience with mental illness. The campaign was designed around the results of the community survey, to ensure that the issues identified by residents were given the platform needed to affect change in the region.