Healthy New Jersey

New Jersey Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma

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The Individual

There Are Many Types of Mental Illness

Mental illness includes, but is not limited to, depression, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, agoraphobia, attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Although these conditions are treatable, stigma stands in the way of treatment. Mental illness - as is the case with other illnesses - can spiral when left untreated.

Additionally, adults face different stressors than children and adolescents, and they also face different kinds of stigma. In many cases, adults try to accommodate their mental illness, and some have struggled in this accommodation since childhood. However, one cannot really accommodate a mental illness without negative outcomes. When adults attempt to "cover up" their illness, the illness still compromises quality of life issues, including physical health, family and professional relationships, and self-esteem.

Stigma Isolates Individuals Living with Mental Illness

Until mental health is perceived as being on a level playing field with other illnesses, those living with mental illness will continue to remain disenfranchised.

The Fear of Revealing a Mental Illness Is Very Real

This fear strikes on many levels. Those living with mental illness have realistic fears about the consequences of disclosing their mental illness. This fear fuels self-stigmatization - a powerful form of stigma that shatters self-esteem, plummeting individuals into a world of secrecy and shame. Stigma results in people avoiding working alongside, socializing with and/or living in close proximity to people with mental illness. Revealing a mental illness compromises the pursuit of and the sustaining of employment, access to health insurance, and personal and family relationships, as well as basic day-to-day activities.

Odds Are that at Some Point in your Life, Either You or Someone You Know Will Have a Mental Illness

More than one-fourth of the population - a figure that is likely higher, but not documented due to the stigma of disclosure and treatment - is living with a diagnosable mental illness.  It is also likely that everyone will experience a bout of mental illness that remains unidentified and untreated because of stigma.  These illnesses might include, but are not limited to depression, social anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.  With early and appropriate treatment of these illnesses, there is a solid record of positive outcomes.

The Reality Is that Every Individual Benefits when Mental Health Is Understood and Embraced

We have a fundamental obligation to afford every individual the opportunity to pursue a full and productive life, and those living with mental illness can and do live very productive lives, often leaving historic legacies. However, those living with mental illness are trapped by their stereotypes. We laud Winston Churchill - who lived with mental illness - and yet we shun our neighbor living with mental illness. We must remember that society has been and always will be enriched by the contributions of those living with mental illness.

The Fact Is that Mental Illness Is an Inextricable Part of our Total Health Dynamic

Just like other illnesses, mental illnesses can be effectively addressed, and many of those diagnosed recover completely. For those who think that they or someone they care about has a mental illness, there are resources and avenues for clinical care and other types of support.

Click here for additional information and resources specifically related to adults with mental illness and click here for additional information and resources specifically related to children with mental illness.

YouTube Public Service Announcements

Children's System of Care Public Service Announcement (intended for parents):

1.       60 second format in English and Spanish

2.       30 second format in English and Spanish

3.       15 second format in English and Spanish

Youth Suicide Prevention Public Service Announcement (intended for youth):

1.       60 second format in English and Spanish

2.       30 second format in English and Spanish

HHS/SAMHSA Launches New Consumer Web Resource to Find Mental Health Support

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created a web page to help individuals find mental health support resources.

Click here to view this website, which also provides information about treatment, guidelines for coping and helping others, and the types of treatment available.

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