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Two years ago, sixteen local organizations came together with the mission to stop the stigma of mental illness so more people will seek the help they need.

The Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition launched a media campaign titled Join the Conversation and created a website letstalkstigma.org to increase awareness about stigma and get people talking about mental illness, health and wellness. This grassroots campaign gives individuals with mental illness a voice and promotes positive language about mental illness.

To mark the success of Join the Conversation, a membership meeting and celebration will be held on Tuesday, May 14 from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at WNED studios in downtown Buffalo. Everyone who has taken the pledge is invited to attend. Please RSVP by May 6. Event sponsors are Deaf Access Services and WNED/WBFO. People who have taken the pledge to end stigma and other interested community members will learn about the results of the campaign and hear about plans for the future. A panel discussion about overcoming mental health challenges will feature campaign spokespersons Jenna Luehrsen, Dan Lukasik, Karl Shallowhorn, Allison Schroeder, and Annika Thomas.

“Join the Conversation is making great strides as more people engage on social media and take the pledge to end stigma,” Max Donatelli, Chairman, Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition. “We are excited to provide an update on the campaign and share plans for the coming year.” According to Donatelli, during the past year, representatives from Join the Conversation have presented to school groups and community organizations and participated in several health and wellness fairs. This month, a panel discussion will be held at Erie County Medical Center to educate hospital staff about mental illness stigma and wellness.

Studies indicate that one in five people will experience mental illness in their lifetimes and stigma often prevents them from speaking up and seeking help. LetsTalkStigma.org provides real-life stories, identifies myths versus facts, provides resources, and to get our community talking about mental illness. Erie County, the Peter and Elizabeth Tower Foundation and the Patrick P. Lee Foundation provide funding for the campaign.

If you or someone you love is dealing with a mental health issue, help is available. Reaching out to a trusted resource is the first step to getting the support you need.

How to Help Friends and Family Members with Mental Health Challenges

  • Reaching out and letting them know you are available to help
  • Helping them access mental health services
  • Learning and sharing the facts about mental health, especially if you hear something that isn’t true
  • Treating them with respect, just as you would anyone else
  • Refusing to define them by their diagnosis or using labels such as “crazy”

National Alliance of Mental Illness


Depression

is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease.

National Institute of Mental Health

%

of adults with a mental illness didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration