Raising awareness and combating stigma

Raising awareness and combating stigma

Raising awareness and combating stigma

"We're here today to support him and his family". Mental health issues are more of a symptom than a disease and can be tackled with professional help.

"Across the globe, some societies still discriminate against people with mental health problems". "I just wanted to get out here, make a difference and do what I can to help others".

Considering it is the inaugural walk, Strides Against Stigma was a great success, according to Abby Kehe, NAMI-UIUC co-president and LAS junior.

The MHA has, however, developed and embarked on a medium to long term development plan and was poised to bring on board all resources required for the effective and efficient implementation of projects designed in the strategy and called for the Mental Health Fund to be made functional.

Since last semester, Kehe and her executive counterparts have been collaboratively working with their chapter sponsor Diane Zell (who serves on the NAMI-Champaign chapter) to effectively execute their first chapter-led event.


Unlike earlier though, students now speak about issues they face, explains assistant professor, Psychology, Ridhima Shirodkar.

Zell, who formerly served as a local high school psychology teacher, has been volunteering for over 10 years and now serves on the NAMI state board, where she dedicates much of her time to awareness and consultation practices. We have always been told about the importance of physical health but not really about mental health. "It's very hard and you feel alone, and NAMI is very good about making you know that there is hope, you are not alone and that recovery is the expectation for people".

"Once the condition has been identified, continue to offer support and take an active role, for example by ensuring that they take prescribed medication or attend scheduled counselling sessions". "I think that was my biggest flag". Actually, those suffering from mental illnesses are more often the victims of violence, withdrawn, frightened, and/or lonely. When a young person often feels anxious or worried; has frequent stomachaches or headaches with no physical explanation; experiences difficulty with sleep, loses interest in things they once enjoyed doing; isolates themselves; has trouble in school or their grades begin to decline; feels exhausted, lacks energy or is disconnected; fears weight gain, constantly exercises, or develops unusual food consumption; or engages in risky, destructive behavior, including drinking, smoking, or other drug use. "There aren't enough counselors on campus". At a time in their lives when young people are leaving home, developing friendships and applying for jobs, they need to know they can share their concerns and be open about their mental health without fear of discrimination.

There are no simple solutions to treating mental illness. Normalising conversations about mental health and holding regular catch-ups with employees will help to build trust and provide an opportunity for issues to be raised at an early stage.

"Sadly, one in five Australians affected by mental illness do not seek help because of stigma". She believes that organisations and institutions are promoting this awareness through various initiatives and having a counsellor in every educational institute is itself a step forward towards making youth aware that psychological issues are as common as physical issues and there is no shame attached to these.

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