Help NAMI fight the stigma of mental illness


From: Judy Gilow

Do you have a loved one or know someone who lives with mental illness? According to the Center for Disease Control,(CDC) mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions; more than 50 percent of Americans will be affected by mental illness at some point in life.

National Alliance on Mental Illness supports a program for families who have a loved one living with a mental illness. Family to Family classes are offered through Community Education. This individualized program focuses on family members who have a loved one living with mental illness. Participants of this program would like to reach out to others in our community to help break the stigma and find a way to help all members in our community work together in fighting mental illness. One of the most supportive gestures we can offer people affected is to show empathy.

Empathy = feeling WITH someone. The actual definition of the word says “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

Sympathy = feeling sorry FOR someone. The definition says “feelings of pity and sorry for someone’s misfortune.”

Can you see the difference?

Help break the stigma:

• Talk openly about mental health
• Educate yourself and others
• Be conscious of language
• Encourage equality between physical and mental illness
• Show compassion for those with mental illness
• Choose empowerment over shame
• Be honest about treatment
• Let the media know when they’re being stigmatizing

This is what our collective voice sounds like. It sounds like bravery, strength and persistence — the qualities we need to face mental illness and to fight stigma. While we see our loved ones illness we worry stigma prevents too many from seeing the “person” they are. No matter how you contribute to the mental health movement, you can make a difference simply by knowing that mental illness is not anyone’s fault, no matter what societal stigma says. You can make a difference by being and living stigma free. Learn more at

As we talked throughout the NAMI Family to Family spring 2019 class we want others to know...

Never give up hope, talk openly, find resources, find support, and be mindful. Mental illness is “real” and together we can make a difference for loved ones and family members walking this journey.

Can you help find a way to make the life of someone with mental illness and their caretakers better? We encourage you to reach out to your local representatives to take our voices to the Minnesota State Capital by calling or writing:

• Senator Jeremy Miller, phone: 651-296-5649, or email:
• Rep. Gene Pelowski Jr., phone: 651-296-8637, or email:

For additional information contact Judy Gilow at 507-458-0714 or


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