|OpenMindsOpenDoors is an MHAPA initiative aimed at ending discrimination against people with mental illnesses. Approximately one in five people in this country live with a mental illness. More»|
The OpenMindsOpenDoors campaign revolves around five key messages about stigma and discrimination.
People Living with Mental Illness Have the Same Needs as Everyone Else.
Approximately 57.7 million - one-in-four - people in the United States live with mental illness of some sort. To live healthy, fulfilled lives, they have the same needs as everyone else: food, affordable and decent housing, meaningful work, healthcare coverage, access to a good education, and acceptance by family and peers. Yet, stigma associated with mental illness and discrimination against people living with it often prevent their needs from being met. According to a U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health, "Stigma leads people to avoid socializing, employing, or living near persons who have a mental disorder."
People with Mental Illness Experience Recovery.
"Recovery" means different things to different people. For some, recovery is being able to hold down a job. For others, it means working to personal capacity, returning to school, or maintaining close relationships with family and friends. People with mental illness have access to more treatments than ever before in history, including medication, rehabilitation, psychotherapy, group therapy, self-help, or a combination of any of these. Whether recovery comes from medication, traditional therapy, alternative treatments, or even prayer, one common theme is that individuals feel responsible for their lives.
Discrimination Against People Who Have Mental Illness Keeps Them from Seeking Help.
Mental and physical health are important to the overall well-being of individuals and societies. Yet, of the one-in-four people living with a mental illness, fewer than half with serious illnesses seek treatment; and those who do expend considerable effort to keep their treatment a secret. Many have experienced discrimination in school, in housing situations, in the community, and at work. Fear of disclosure, rejection by friends, and discrimination are among the reasons they remain silent, instead of reaching out for help.
People Who Have Mental Illness Make Valuable Contributions to Society.
Teachers. Doctors. Politicians. Lawyers. Parents. Musicians. Actors. Business owners. Scientists. Artists. People living with mental illnesses work in all professions and make invaluable and endless contributions to our lives and communities. They are our friends, family, neighbors, and the people we interact with every day. Yet, only 42% of Americans believe people living with a mental illness can be as successful at work as others. Studies, however, indicate no differences when comparing the productivity of people with mental health problems to that of other employees. Stigma and discrimination, nevertheless, often keep them from applying for or being offered employment, despite their quali?cations for a job. Overcoming the stigma associated with a mental illness, seeking and getting treatment, and being part of a support network enable people to reclaim their lives, enjoy meaningful careers, and continue to make valuable contributions to society.
Discrimination Against People Who Have Mental Illness Violates Their Basic Human Rights.
Twenty years after passage of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, negative and harmful attitudes against people living with mental illnesses remain strong. Despite the provisions of the Act and other civil rights laws, people with mental illnesses continue to face discrimination in the workplace, at school, and in their communities. Breaking down the stigma of mental illness can close the door on discrimination, and open it to opportunity - the right to affordable housing, equal opportunity employment, and a public education. For those living with a mental illness, it's a journey from shame and isolation to dignity and responsibility.