Stand Up Against Stigma

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Stigma

Contributor: Josh Kilgas, Resource Development Officer at United Way Fox Cities

Did you know that one in five people are affected by mental illness? A significant barrier that people face in seeking treatment for mental illness is stigma.

I know untreated mental illness can be an underlying factor to many of the issues United Way Fox Cities addresses. If someone struggles with poor mental health days, it can mean missed work, strained family relationships, and increased medical expenses. I believe if we are able to break down barriers to receiving treatment, we would make significant strides in the overall health of our community.

This year, as part of my participation in the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Fox Cities, I am working with a group to increase community awareness of mental health. Our group is partnering with NAMI Fox Valley to raise awareness about this issue in the Fox Cities and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. In May (Mental Health Awareness Month), listen for radio ads and look for signs, billboards, and bus wraps with the message, "No Health without Mental Health."

Also, please join us on May 2nd at noon at Houdini Plaza, 100 W. Lawrence St. in Appleton for a ‘living exhibit’. Community leaders, mental health supporters, Gannett Wisconsin Media, and 91.1 The Avenue will help us raise awareness about mental health during a 30-minute program. One in five of the more than 200 chairs set up in the plaza will be marked with a green mental health awareness ribbon to signify the one in five people affected by a mental illness. The public is invited to write anonymous messages on the chairs to give voice to those who have been touched by mental illness.

For more information about mental health awareness and events in the month of May, visit www.standupagainststigma.org and join me in standing up against stigma.