STIGMA, STIGMA, STIGMA
This is the constant refrain we hear in the mental health community. The
following stories continue to point out the impact of the stigma of mental
illness. New York has been a leader in making inroads in recent years with
the passage of a mental illness public awareness income tax check off bill,
the mental health education in schools bills and hopefully this year with
the passage of a license plate bill, but we know there is much more that
needs to be done.
We have attached portions of an interview in GQ United Kingdom featuring an
interview with Prince William. A great quote from the interview states,
“Smashing the taboo is our biggest aim. We cannot go anywhere much until
that is done. People can’t access services till they feel less ashamed, so
we must tackle the taboo, the stigma, for goodness sake, this is the 21st
– Prince William
Also attached are two articles from New York involving stigma.
The first article highlights a recent survey from Excellus BlueCross
BlueShield regarding perceptions about mental illness in upstate New York.
While overall the survey results are encouraging, they still fall far short
of the empathy and support expressed for physical illness.
The second article highlights the work of the MHA in Erie and MHANYS Board
Member Karl Shallowhorn, in the work they are doing for the Just Tell One
(Thanks to eagle eye stigma busters Jamie Papapetros and Bennett Liebman
for finding these articles)
Survey results identify empathy gap on mental health issues
UTICA — Sixty percent of upstate New York adults feel people are caring and
sympathetic to those who suffer from mental illness, according to research
findings issued recently by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. A closer look at
the data reveals a less rosy view from people who have mental health
Using self-reported survey data from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield found that 46 percent of upstate
New York adults who have a depressive disorder feel that people are
generally caring and sympathetic to individuals with mental illness. Some
64 percent of upstate New York adults who have never been diagnosed with a
depressive disorder believe that people are generally caring and
sympathetic to people with mental illness.
“There’s an empathy gap when it comes to mental illness,” Ann Griepp, M.D.,
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield medical director for behavioral health
management, said in a media release. “Our analysis of public survey data
shines a light on the need for society to bridge that gap.”
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines mental illness as a
condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood, and may affect
an individual’s ability to function and relate to others.
“One in five U.S. adults experiences a mental health condition over the
course of a year, making mental illness more common than cancer, diabetes
or heart disease,” Griepp said “The myths and the stigma that surround
mental illness can result in feelings of shame and isolation that can cause
affected persons to deny symptoms, delay treatment, and refrain from taking
part in daily life.”
The CDC data show that four of five upstate New York adults agree that
treatment can help people with mental illness. Mental Health America, a
nonprofit that addresses the needs of those living with mental illness,
promotes individual or group treatment for many who are diagnosed with
mental illness. A variety of treatment options is available.
According to NAMI, less than half of U.S. adults who had a mental health
condition received treatment last year. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s
review of the CDC data found that in upstate New York, 15 percent of adults
are currently taking medication or receiving treatment for mental illness.
“People who suffer from a mental condition are less likely to seek and
adhere to treatment for their illness,” Griepp noted, “and are also less
likely to adhere to treatment for such other chronic health conditions as
diabetes, heart disease, respiratory conditions, arthritis and asthma. This
puts them at risk for health complications and a lower quality of life.”
Medication reminders, such as pillboxes with alarms and smartphone
notification apps, can help remind people of their need to take their
medications as directed.
“In addition to encouraging people who have a mental illness to get
treatment, we can help bridge the empathy gap by reframing how we think
about mental illness,” Griepp said. “We can do that by seeing the person
and not the illness, and offering him or her support by saying, ‘We will
get through this together’ or ‘I’m here for you.’”
Griepp recommends initiating open and honest conversations about mental
illness to help close the empathy gap that exists between those who have a
mental illness and those who don’t.
“That includes starting conversations between patients and doctors, and
among family members and loved ones,” she said.
The World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum report that
mental illness represents the biggest economic burden of any health issue
in the world. They project that by the year 2030, mental illness will
result in $6 trillion in associated health-care costs (two-thirds of which
are attributed to disability and loss of work) worldwide.
TO LEARN MORE
View Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s analysis of CDC survey data online at
Download a free infographic poster, “Empathy and Mental Illness: Bridging
the Gap,” at tinyurl.com/kpwetw7
For an animated version of the infographic: https://youtu.be/nPHMuRLcOs4
Access to Mental Health Services Key to Reducing Youth Suicide Rates
By LaMonica Peters
Updated Monday, May 29, 2017 at 06:06 PM EDT
BUFFALO N.Y. — According to research from the National Alliance on Mental
Illness, at least one in five teenagers will experience a mental health
condition in their lifetime.
Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for young people ages 10
Advocates in Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) say a 2015 survey showed 13
percent of high schoolers and 16 percent of middle schoolers have seriously
considered suicide. Social workers who counsel BPS students say parents
need to be more proactive and talk to their children about how they’re
“Please try to think of somebody in your life that you trust that you can
tell something’s going on,” said BPS Social Worker Lisa Boehringer. “I
think as a school and all districts, not just Buffalo, have a
responsibility to do more suicide prevention and awareness.”
Boehringer says more access to services for students, as well as parents,
is key to reducing youth suicide rates.
Advocates at the Mental Health Association of Erie County say the resources
are available, but people need to have the courage to reach out.
“We have a campaign called ‘Just Tell One.’ Justtellone.org
is a website that you can go to for both young
people as well as parents and adults,” said Karl Shallowhorn, director of
Community Advocacy for the Mental Health Association of Erie County and
Compeer Buffalo. “So they can find out how to start that conversation, how
to open up and talk to someone, how to find that trusted adult. Also how to
help that parent or even educator know how to respond if someone comes to
them to seek help.”
Boehringer says records showed nine percent of BPS high school students and
eight percent of middle school students attempted suicide in 2015.