Stop the Stigma
Stop the Stigma is a way to break down barriers.
Stop the Stigma is a way to get people talking.
Stop the Stigma is a way to empower youth and let them know that they are not alone.
While it is known that 1 in 5 youth have a mental illness, the reality is that 2 in 3 are not getting the help that they need. Why is this? Due to the stigma that surrounds mental illness, people, particularly youth, often do not want to admit that something is wrong. Furthermore, many people don’t realize that what they are experiencing is a mental health issue because mental illness is not often talked about. This means that many people do not reach out for help and instead, suffer in silence.
In order to address these issues, MDAO partnered with the Toronto Catholic District School Board in 2009 to bring a mental health awareness program called Stop the Stigma to high schools in the GTA. MDAO trained select groups of students to act as leaders of mental health awareness in their schools by running Stop the Stigma weeks in the spring. Stop the Stigma weeks consist of presentations, with topics that cover issues such as youth mental health and how to access support, as well as information booths, and fun activities to help students get involved, including the creation of anti-stigma videos for youtube (check out the videos below). MDAO also trained several young adults with inspiring stories of recovery to go out to the schools and share their story with other youth. The result was that students and staff started talking about mental health, some disclosed that they were struggling after hearing the speaker’s stories and many were better equipped to get support for themselves or someone else if faced by a mental health issue. Many schools took on the challenge to reduce stigma by talking about mental health and by 2011, the program had reached more than 26,000 students! It wasn’t long before the Toronto District School Board decided to introduce the program into their schools as well.
Today, MDAO continues to assist by providing presentations and community information booths on mental health to students, as well as teachers and parents. We also continue to train new schools to start Stop the Stigma programs in and outside of the GTA.
Interested in bringing a Stop the Stigma program to your school or in having an MDAO speaker present at a Stop the Stigma week?
Leanne Needham, Coordinator of Family and Youth Programs
"For me, being involved with Stop the Stigma has been impactful in so many ways. Firstly, hearing the stories of others, of brave young men and women who upon hearing my story have found the courage to disclose (sometimes for the very first time) that they are experiencing mental health challenges or have experienced unresolved trauma, and then finding the strength to seek help, has been especially moving. And then there are the students and faculty and parents and community members who have gained a better understanding of what it's like to be afflicted by mental illness, not just for the individual, but for that person's family and friends. And on a personal level, through Stop the Stigma, I have had the rewarding experience of reaching thousands of Canadians, children and adults, showing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that mental illness does not have to be a life sentence, and that there is always hope. The impact of Stop the Stigma is far reaching, invaluable, and certainly is playing a huge role in winning the battle against mental illness, and the stigma that often shrouds it, in our society"
~Asante Haughton, Stop the Stigma Speaker