Pathstone Mental Health, as the only accredited primary provider of children’s mental health, recognized and then committed to ending the devastation stigma has for those with mental health challenges. It is well known that individuals who experience mental illness often face stigma in their daily lives. Stigma marks someone as different from others; some people with mental health issues feel disenfranchised and marginalized.
Compounding this is the difficulty that many, who suffer from mental health challenges, have to admit that they need help, especially when there is so much stigma surrounding mental illness. For many stigma is the reason that many people do not seek the help and support that would be beneficial. While feeling sad, stressed, or worried is a regular part of life, these same emotions could be symptoms of a mental illness or mental health problem, depending on the severity and duration.
To address this Pathstone championed the effort to eliminate stigma. Pathstone reached out to a host of service providers and professionals that deliver services to children, youth, and families – many who have mental health issues. Recent studies have found that 84% of people are impacted by either a family member or friend with mental health issues. These dedicated professionals agreed to form a committee and to carry the banner of eliminating stigma. This group orchestrated numerous mental health fairs and educational events (including videos and artwork), completed by students from both boards of education. They also jointly provided interviews to newspapers and to news shows.
In the past 7 years Niagara’s efforts have yielded very positive results. Locally we have also benefited from Provincial and National efforts of both the government and private sector. Although Stigma continues we are ending our direct efforts and focus on Shattering Stigma because of the gains we as a community have generated.
Having a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. 1 in 5 people, or 6.8 million Canadians, will experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. This is now well recognized. For all the agencies, institutions, professionals, families, children, and youth who have given their time, expertise, experiences, and hope we thank you.
One in five people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. The other four will know someone- a family member, friend, or co-worker who has been affected. We all have stories to tell. Below are stories from people who have been impacted by by the stigma of mental illness.
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These anonymously submitted postcards share stories of how how mental illness, and the stigma associated with it, has affected individuals throughout the Niagara region. Whether you are the mother, brother, aunt or husband of someone with a mental illness, or someone who has been personally affected, you all have a story. This is your voice.
The Anti-Stigma Planning Committee was made up of individuals representing a wide cross-section of Niagara. We would like to acknowledge the support of the following organizations and individuals:
- Ellis KatsofPathstone Mental Health
- Hilary AbbeyDSBN, Principal
- Arlene ArchThorold City Council
- Yolanda BaldasaraNCDSB
- Mary BarzykCMHA Niagara
- Cheryl Bechard HoweDSBN, Social Worker
- Laura BrunoCMHA, Niagara
- Sarah CannonPathstone Parent Advisory Committee
- Laurie ColumbusNiagara Region Public Health
- Jill DennisonSchizophrenia Society of Ontario
- Barb EadeDSBN
- Steven GallagherNiagara Falls Review
- Laurie GarnerCommunity Member
- Laura GuirguisNCDSB, St. Paul High School
- Kevin HardingCorporate Communications, PR Consultant
- Kyle HorvathBrock University, Student
- Mary-Therese KeenanNCDSB, Blessed Trinity
- Brittany KeskinenCommunity Member
- Diane KonPathstone Foundation
- Nadia LaselvaNCDSB, Monsignor Clancy
- Brittany MarshallBrock University, Student
- Susan MisfudBrock University, Staff
- Heidi MoriCommunity Member
- Ashleigh MyersAstral Radio Niagara
- Katherine PerryNCDSB, Blessed Trinity
- Dave PierceDSBN, Social Worker
- Diane PizaleMonsignor Clancy
- Jessica RathwellPathstone Mental Health
- Karen RobsonCMHA, Niagara
- Heather ScottNHS, Manager Mental Health
- Kealan SislerJMR Logics / Upper Rapids
- Susan TromanhauserNCDSB, St. Patrick Elementary School
- Joann TweneyRockpoint Productions
- Stephanie ValePride Niagara
- Nadine WallaceNiagara Regional Police Service
- Laurie WalshAstral Media Niagara
- Adam WhiteJMR Logics / Upper Rapids
- Julie Wiley-PolPathstone Parent Advisory Committee
- Karen WrightDSBN, Orchard Park
- Carrie ZeffiroPathstone Foundation