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With the participation of NAMI StigmaBusters, the National Anti-Stigma Campaign was launched, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Advertising Council. Public service announcements (PSAs) are available for use in local communities. For the first time in history, the authority of the federal government is being put behind a sustained national PSA campaign to reduce stigma and encourage support of people with mental illnesses. Special congratulations to NAMI's In Our Own Voice presenters who are a model for the campaign's grassroots civic education.
NAMI presented StigmaBuster strategy and tactics in a teleconference sponsored by the ADS Center. (Resource Center to Address Discrimination & Stigma).
Complaints to ABC-TV and the FOX-TV are believed to have contributed to network decisions to cancel the heavily stigmatizing comedy Crumbs and the reality show Unanimous. Several companies took StigmaBuster concerns seriously and pulled advertising from the shows' time slots.
NAMI worked with the Entertainment Industries Council to produce a guide on bipolar disorder for producers, directors and screenwriters, as part of additional efforts to overcome stigma in Hollywood. NAMI also presented CBS-TV with an award for its CBS Cares campaign on depression.
Protests of "haunted insane asylum" attractions received national attention at Halloween. Media coverage included the front page of the Chicago Tribune and CBS Radio. The themes of some attractions were changed, and even where not, public dialogue was achieved.
The "Obsessive Compulsive Action Figure" led to healthy dialogue among StigmaBusters about the uses of humor and whether mental illness is ever funny. An informal survey of readers revealed the following opinions:
50% -- Yes, but only when it's not stigmatizing in nature; i.e., making fun of the illness, not the person, and especially if it educates others or helps a person cope.
25% -- Yes, but only when we are laughing among ourselves, consumers, families and therapists.
14% -- Never
11% -- Yes. Lighten up. Laughter is the best medicine.
Local action based on StigmaBuster models continue to bring success. NAMI Oregon recently protested a bank advertisement that used every stigmatizing word in the dictionary (e.g., crazy, bonkers, psycho, mental, screwy, wacko, etc.) Not only did the bank president apologize and cancel the ad, but the bank also made a contribution to the state organization and signaled a desire to partner with NAMI in the community.
[report anonymous abuse]
If we hope to destigmatize mental illness, it must be done on numerous levels--the federal, state, and the community. But I believe that we must start among ourselves and friends and families. Do you tell your friends that you are bipolar or a depressive? The close ones or do you also let in the more casual friends and acquaintances? If you have to leave work for an hour to see your therapist to you cloak it a little by saying "a doctor's appointment"?
When I first met my soon-to-be in-laws I was upfront with them. My mother-in-law understood because she too had a history of depression. My father-in-law, on the other hand, seemed more aloof. But he is a very bright man who approaches life intellectually. So, I gave him some readings, above the layperson's level but not at that of a professional. And we sat and talked bout what days were like for me. One day, I knew I was in when he brought up the fact that many musicians/jazz players suffered from bipolar. They have embraced me and my mental illness more than my own parents.
One more area--the use of the word consumer in lieu of patient. Why exactly do so many people do this? To be more than their illness? But at the same time we are fighting for mental health parity with regard to insurance. And also it seems that most of us have come to the conclusion that mental illnesses are medically based. And the trend is to use medications to treat them. And these medicatons are prescribed by doctors to patients. It seems like people want it both ways.
I think a big first step is to "come out of the closet." I think a lot of us carry some shame, embarrassment, fear of losing friends, jobs or family. This just results our perpetuating the stigma we say that we oppose. You can't fight stigma within the confines of a discussion group made up of fellow sufferers. It has to be done in the real world, too.
[ send green star]
I agree with you whole heartedly. When one hides their condition it only adds to the stigma. We must educate our friends and families so they can better understand what life is like with a mental disorder. It is so true what you were told about musicians and other artists (I am one). I always believed that the reason so many artists, writers, musicians, dancers, etc. have used drugs and alcohol throughout history, was basically to self-medicate.
[ send green star]
More stigma March 23, 2007 8:05 PM
It's been a strange winter for car commercials, with several portraying suicide methods or trivializing mental illness. First the General Motors ad showing a depressed robot during the Super Bowl. Then a Volkswagen ad showing a man poised to jump from a buildings. And then in El Paso, Texas, a local car dealer showed a man in a straitjacket being chased around a car lot by a nurse with a hypodermic needle. In each case, NAMI StigmaBusters helped get the ads cancelled or changed.
Call to Action: Wristcutters
Unfortunately, another offensive—and dangerous—suicide marketing campaign is planned.
AfterDark Films will release a film this summer, Wristcutters: A Love Story. Described as "a dark romantic comedy." it will be distributed by Lionsgate Entertainment. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006 and has won some film festival awards. NAMI has not had an opportunity to view it, and makes no judgment at this time about its content or creative merit.
Beginning in April, however, AfterDark plans to launch an advertising campaign with cutouts of characters jumping off a bridge, electrocuting and hanging themselves. The signs will be placed on telephone poles and trees in major markets.
"We just hope they don't cause too many accidents," AfterDark's managing partner, Courtney Solomon said. Never mind "suicide contagion," through which portrayals of suicide in the mass media stimulate an increase of "copycat suicides" by people in distress.
Recently, protests forced AfterDark to remove 30 billboards in Los Angeles promoting the release of another film Captivity which showed graphic images of women, being kidnapped, confined, tortured and killed. Solomon claimed the billboards had been put put up by mistake.
On March 12, NAMI and 13 other national organizations signed a joint letter to AfterDark and Lionsgate, asking that the graphic suicide marketing campaign be dropped. So far there has been no response by AfterDark. Lionsgate claims they have nothing to do with marketing decisions.
Please contact both companies:
Stop the Wristcutters suicide marketing campaign
Research shows that portrayals of suicide in mass media generate "suicide contagion." The planned advertising campaign is recklessly indifferent to the risk of promoting real deaths.
Images of suicide are cruel and offensive to people who have lost family or friends to suicide, or themselves survived suicide attempts.
Share a short personal story about mental illness, suicide, or stigma
Mr. Jon Feltheimer
CEO & Co-Chairman
Lionsgate Entertainment Corporation
2700 Colorado Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
310- 449-9200 (o)
310- 255-3870 (fax)
Mr. Courtney Solomon
2161 N. Bronson Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90068
Short handwritten notes sent by regular mail sometimes have a special impact, especially with Lionsgate. If emails to either company bounce back because the in-box is full, please consider calling. If voice mailboxes are full, consider sending a note. Overflowing mailboxes, means other StigmaBusters are also helping to make a difference. The more contact the better, from all directions!
[report anonymous abuse]
a new stigma alert October 04, 2007 7:19 PM
NAMI StigmaBusters Alert
NAMI StigmaBuster Alert: October 4, 2007
Help CANVAS Fight Stigma – No Matter Where You Live
Canvas Movie Poster
During Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct 7-13), the movie CANVAS will be released in five cities. Whether it succeeds will depend on how well it plays at the box office—in terms of tickets sold. The test will be in Chicago and New York on October 12, followed by Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and Phoenix on October 19. If Friday and Saturday ticket sales run high, the release will expand to 200 cities nationwide.
Starring award-winning actors Marcia Gay Harden and Joe Pantoliano, CANVAS is the story of a family's struggle with schizophrenia. The film educates as well as entertains. It will strike a blow against stigma, but only if enough people see it.
The NAMI Advocate has suggested ways to help. You don't even have to live in one of the five cities. Here are the key ones:
* Go see the movie if you live in those metro areas
* Spread the word! Email family and friends in the five cities about the film this week!
* Buy tickets on-line early during the week before each opening. Donate tickets to others.
Theater locations currently are available for four of the five cities. Check local listings for Ft. Lauderdale as the date approaches.
* In Chicago , starting Oct 12: AMC Loews 600 North Michigan 9, 600 N. Michigan Ave. 60611
* In New York , starting Oct 12: Regal Union Square Stadium 14, 850 Broadway, 10003
* In Los Angeles , starting Oct 19: Laemmie Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Boulevard, 90046
* In Phoenix , starting Oct 19: Harkins Shea 14, 7354 E. Shea Blvd , ( Scottsdale ) 85260
On October 3, " America's Next Top Model" featured contestants "perfecting their runway walk" while wearing straitjackets, as part of a competition to prove they can make it in "the high-stress, high-stakes world of supermodeling." The set was a mock, abandoned psychiatric ward and the modeling coach, dressed as a nurse, scolded them not to walk "like the former patients of this hospital."
The CW Television Network needs to know:
* The episode was outrageous—mocking people with mental illnesses. Would the show ever use a cancer ward as the setting for a modeling test?
* Straitjackets represent extremely painful, traumatic experiences. Their image is hurtful to individuals and families who struggle with mental illness.
* Using straitjackets for entertainment demeans individual dignity and trivializes mental illness.
* Straitjackets are often associated with violence. Their image reinforces the kind of stigma that the U.S. Surgeon General has found to be a major barrier to people seeking help when they need it.
Senior Vice-President for Broadcast Standards
The CW Television Network
220 East 42ndStreet
New York, NY 10017
It's the season again for ghosts and goblins, and unfortunately stigma. Every year, some local haunted house attractions take the form of "insane asylums," featuring "mental patients" as murderers or ghouls. Halloween costumes or other products may reflect similar themes. If Halloween stigma arises in your community:
* Contact the civic sponsor or comm ercial owner of an attraction or the store manager. Usually, no one intends to offend, but they need to understand that the effect is not only offensive, but also generates stigma.
* If necessary, ask for a group meeting. Explain the public health concern.
* Ask that the theme of the attraction be changed or modified. If the immediate cost is too great,ask for a public statement or written letter of assurance that the theme won't be repeated in future years.
* Ask that a store product be removed from shelves. For chain stores, ask to contact theregional manager.
* Generate a letter-writing campaign. Work as part of group. Inform the news media. Write letters to editors. Use the controversy as a "teaching moment" about mental illness and the need to eliminate stigma
* Try to create partnerships for the future. Thank and praise responsiveness. After the controversy is resolved, invite the civic group or business to support NAMI's broader goals by helping sponsor a walkathon or other local event. Ask if they can help distribute pamphlets.
Stigma "Red Flags"
Whether it's a Halloween attraction or any other portrayal in the entertainment or advertising industries, here are factors that can be weighed to determine whether mental illness or people with mental illnesses are being stigmatized.
* Portrayed only as antagonists or villains
* Linkage to violence
* Disparaging language
* Devaluation (trivialization)
* Using mental illness as the butt of a joke
* Offensive or insensitive symbols (e.g., straitjackets)
[report anonymous abuse]