Living with a mental illness can leave someone feeling alone, sad, and disconnected. Roughly, one in five adults have a diagnosable mental disorder during their lifetime and nearly one out of five children will experience emotional or behavioral difficulty. In Sacramento County, it is estimated that over 300,000 residents are living with a mental illness.
With education, support and treatment, people can—and do—recover and live fulfilling lives. But, regrettably, the strong stigma surrounding mental illnesses discourages many people from seeking help, support, or treatment. In fact, only 41 percent of adults with a mental health condition received mental health services during the past year because of the stigma, discrimination or shame they experience. No one should have to experience this struggle alone, especially as it resonates with individuals from every ethnic, racial, gender, socioeconomic, religion and age group.
Sacramento County is celebrating the progress it has made to inform residents that mental illness is treatable and recovery is possible when education, family, peer and community supports are available and used. Since its inception in 2012, the “Mental Illness: It’s not always what you think” project has:
- Established the Stop Stigma Sacramento Speakers Bureau which has trained 181 speakers
- Speakers have reached almost 10,000 people at more than 240 events and inspired hope for hundreds of others living with mental illness.
- Provided over 200,000 program materials, including brochures, posters and tip cards available in multiple languages, to nearly 100 community organizations and during project events reaching thousands of residents throughout Sacramento County.
- Promoted advertising throughout the County, featuring Sacramento residents living with mental illness, including multi-lingual TV, radio, online and outdoor advertising which resulted in over 476 million impressions. Watch this recent FOX40 segment interviewing Patrick Ma, a member of the project's Stop Stigma Speakers Bureau, who shares his personal experience for World Suicide Prevention Day.
- Hosted 20 multicultural events throughout Sacramento County with hundreds of local residents to raise awareness about mental illness and the project and to spread messages of hope.
- Developed a robust online presence and social media program that has resulted in more than 165,000 visitors to the website, over 9,000 likes on Facebook and 700 Twitter followers.
“Our project was initiated in direct response to Sacramento County Mental Health Services Act stakeholder feedback following the passage of Proposition 63,” said Uma Zykofsky, Sacramento County Behavioral Health Director. “Community leaders agreed that cultural, including LGBTQ, racial, ethnic and age-appropriate messages must be included with any mental health promotion and anti-stigma program.”
In celebration of its six year anniversary and in recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct.7-13), a national observance sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
, the “Mental Illness: It’s not always what you think” project is hosting the “Journey of Hope: Real Life Stories of Living with Mental Health Challenges Portrayed Through Art” exhibit at the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center
from Oct. 6-20. This collaborative exhibit is designed to bring insight and understanding about mental illness to the public through art. The art exhibition pairs local artists with writers who are willing to share their personal stories of struggle, hope and recovery with mental illness. Artists were then tasked with creating artistic portrayals of these stories. Sacramento County employees and residents are encouraged to learn more about the Journey of Hope
art exhibit to show their support for Sacramento’s mental health community.
This program is funded by the Division of Behavioral Health Services through the voter approved Proposition 63, Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). For more information, please visit www.stopstigmasacramento.org
, and follow the project on Facebook
. Residents can also call 2-1-1 Sacramento (2-1-1), a free information and referral service for the community, and residents who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing can call 7-1-1 to connect to 2-1-1. Calls are always confidential, and interpreters are available.