Q: Why did your agency choose to become a member of The Anti-Stigma Coalition?
As a peer-operated agency and an agency grounded in recovery principles, we have witnessed the negative effects of stigma as an impediment to recovery while working toward housing, employment, family relationships, community connections, and educational goals with our customers. We have seen first hand the effects stigma has on child custody determinations, legal outcomes, and even counter-intuitive treatment options. Unfortunately, we have also endured the horrific effects associated with isolation, depression, and hopelessness resulting from stigma.
Q: How are the people you serve impacted by stigma?
Stigma stalls or halts recoveries. People with mental health conditions have greater difficulty securing employment, which could lead to economic self-sufficiency, a heightened quality of life, a natural support network, and increased self-esteem. At times landlords are apprehensive to rent to a person with a mental health condition meaning housing options are limited and may result in homeless or extended periods of homelessness. They may be denied custody of children, when receiving individualized supports may be effective and more appropriate. Due to these impediments, people with mental health conditions are often required to remain financially and emotionally dependent on systems, rather than enjoy the fulfillment and benefits of recovery. Stigma keeps people isolated, oppressed, reluctant to seek treatment, depressed and impoverished.
Q: What impact is the Campaign having in the community, in your opinion?
It has given a community wide approach to combating stigma by coming together in a grassroots manner to raise awareness, educate and dispel myths, which will eventually change attitudes. Consumers are very excited about this campaign and comforted knowing they are not fighting this battle alone. I think we are off to a very good start, but there is much more to do to fully evaluate impact.