What is Stigma?
"Stigma is when someone, or even you yourself, views a person in a negative way just because they have a mental health condition. Some people describe "stigma" as a feeling of shame or judgment from someone else. Stigma can even come from an internal place, confusing feeling "bad" with "being bad."
Navigating life with a mental health condition can be tough, and the isolation, blame, and secrecy that is often encouraged by stigma can create huge challenges to reaching out, getting needed support, and living well. "Learning how to avoid and address stigma are important for all of us, especially when you realize stigma’s effects."(www.nami.org/stigma)
What does it mean that our town has declared itself Stigma-Free?
Mahwah leaders understand that many of us have family, friends, or personal journeys with a mental health condition. Mental health is a large component of our overall well-being, yet we tend to keep our experiences with it private and hidden. This lack of transparency, scarce resources for mental health education, and confusion about how to get help all contribute to the stigmatization of mental illness.
(Original artwork courtesy of Tracy Lavorini , MHS Class of 2020)
Did you know that our town declared itself a Stigma-Free Zone in April of 2017? Our town formed the Mahwah Stigma-Free Task Force for Mental Health to:
- Educate residents that mental illness is a health condition and must be treated just like a physical ailment.
- Raise awareness of the prevalence of mental illness in our community and the world.
- Allow people living with mental health conditions to feel supported by their community, and thus, decrease feelings of isolation and shame.
- Share mental health resources so finding help is less confusing.
- Raise awareness that care is accessible regardless of income.
Ethan and Tyra are two aspiring film directors/writers/actors on YouTube. "This is a video that me and Tyra have been working on for a long time now; we thought we would share it with you guys!"
"For a while now, I've wanted to tackle the subject of mental health on this channel. It's something that is very important to me and something I feel incredibly strongly about. However, I've always put it off because I'd never worked out how to approach it."
The Child Mind Institute had prominent individuals speak to their younger selves about growing up with a mental health condition or learning disorder. #MyYoungerSelf shares messages of hope and courage as part of the Child Mind Institute’s Speak Up for Kids public education campaign. It’s time to end the stigma. Help us speak up by sharing these stories:
"We asked Wayne Brady what he would tell his younger self about his struggles with mental health. Here's what he said!"
(Child Mind Institute, 2017)