Member Spotlight: Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming (GOW) Pathway to Hope

Mar 13, 2024

Through our public awareness activities, we hope to let communities know that there is no shame in having a mental illness is a priority for our coalition as well.

We recently spoke with Sue Gange, who with her team, answered the following questions about stigma and mental health.

Why did your organization become a member of The Anti-Stigma Coalition?

The Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming (GOW) Pathway to Hope project is a collaborative effort that focuses on mental health and suicide prevention in those counties. We know that stigma is a big part of the reason that individuals don’t talk about or seek treatment for those issues. When our team became aware of the Anti-Stigma Coalition, we thought it would be a great partnership to work on breaking down the barriers that prevent people from getting the help they may need. We noticed your letstalkstigma.org website and messaging and felt it is personable and well executed, especially the videos on your site.

How are individuals with mental health challenges impacted by stigma?

Stigma is defined as a mark of shame or disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. Often those with mental health challenges can feel like they are flawed in some way, which can lead to shame and the desire to isolate from others, which we know is not good for our mental health. Often those feeling stigmatized refuse to seek help because they feel targeted in some way.

What is your organization doing to address stigma and enhance mental wellness for the people you serve?

Knowing that stigma can delay people seeking treatment, we hope to keep the conversation around mental health and suicide prevention going. Through our public awareness activities, we hope to let communities know that there is no shame in having a mental illness is a priority for our coalition as well. Seeking help can be a sign of strength. We encourage people to reach out for help that works best for them. We actively and openly discuss our personal and lived experiences surrounding mental health and suicide during community and coalition events. Our goal is to instill hope in others as well as to make change to reduce stigma and encourage help seeking behaviors.