If there is ever a time to donate…now is the time!
The negative stereotypes about people with mental illness saturate our lives. News outlets routinely depict individuals with mental illness as dangerous, when the fact is that these individuals are not only less likely to commit a crime, but also more likely to be the victim of a crime. Prime time television and movies offer up characters with mental illness who are criminals, slovenly, aggressive, and irrational. Rarely, if ever, do we see a character or hear about a real person who recovers from a mental illness. Although recovery can and does occur, the message that the public receives is that someone who has a mental illness has no hope for a “normal” life. Therefore, public stigma abounds and becomes as crippling as the mental illness itself.
Through our statewide education and advocacy work, we routinely dispel the myths that mass media perpetuates. Through our Mental Health First Aid trainings, we educate the public on what mental illness is and what it is not. Project Healthy Moms cuts through the distorted societal expectations of new mothers (also perpetuated by the media) and exposes the reality of motherhood and the fact that 1 in 7 new moms will experience a maternal mental illness. Our Kids on the Block program, targeted at children ages 3 to 12, normalizes mental health issues and encourages help-seeking behaviors so that our next generation won’t be ashamed to discuss/get treatment for mental illness, which affects 1 in 4 people in our country. The RESPECT Institute promotes real Georgians’ recovery stories to various audiences in an effort to educate the public on the reality of living in recovery. So far in 2016 alone, these 4 programs reached over 70,000 people. In addition, our public policy program advocates for the needs of over 100,000 Georgians who utilize our public mental health system. This work routinely provides education and information for the general public as well as the legislature that reduces the stigma which infiltrates the system and affects the quality and quantity of care received.