Why did your organization become a member of The Anti-Stigma Coalition?
Substance use disorder (SUD) and addiction often go hand in hand with mental illness, and more and more, treatment agencies are attempting to address both issues for the people they serve instead of the more siloed approaches of the past. As a prevention agency funded primarily by the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports, Preventionfocus has always tried that same approach.
We provide model programs that give people the skills and information they need to make safer and healthier choices. A lot of our content directly involves the promotion of mental health because preventing substance use helps mental health, and supporting mental health is a strong buffer against harmful use of substances. A lot of prevention work is in the shaping of attitude and beliefs because attitude and beliefs lead to behaviors.
We joined the Coalition because we knew how much stigma can impede people seeking and giving help and we also knew we could apply what we know to the stigma issue. On a personal level, I wanted to be involved because I have a daughter with a few diagnoses and have seen stigma around mental illness as part of her journey.
How does stigma impact the individuals you work with?
Stigma causes people to suffer in silence and makes it hard to talk about issues that need to be talked about to be helped. Frankly, stigma is also a root cause for the lack of adequate funding that the addictions and mental health fields have dealt with for decades.
What is your organization doing to address stigma and enhance mental wellness in the community?
Promotion of mental wellness is at the heart of all that we do at Preventionfocus, but we are especially proud of our social media efforts, our traveling display that’s currently at Walden Galleria and our Team Awareness Resilience &. Thriving workplace program as strategies that address stigma most directly.