NAMI: Silencing the stigma around mental illness

Members of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) gathered Monday in the Student Union to share ideas for the upcoming semester and lessen the stigma surrounding mental health.

NAMI is a national organization formed on campus during the 2016 Fall semester. Their mission is to impact the lives of individuals suffering from mental illness in a positive way, president Michelle Magri explains.

“When we first started the organization the plan and the intent was to help educate others on mental health and things that they don’t understand, things that are often stereotyped,” Magri said.

Cassandra Whitney (public relations), Michelle Magri (president) and Gabrielle Jones (vice president) welcome new members as they join the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The stigma surrounding mental illness is long-standing. Often those fighting illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, feel they cannot talk about it with others because the topic is so sensitive or uncomfortable. They feel trapped inside their own minds, fighting a battle so many have lost before.

Since mental illness is so misunderstood, many people suffering do not seek help. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention name suicide as the second leading cause of death for individuals ages 10-34. NAMI’s national organization provides several approaches to diminish this stigma.

Speak out about Mental Health

NAMI emphasizes a common societal problem with mental health struggles: People often pretend they don’t exist. Therefore, the first step in silencing the stigma is by no longer staying silent in general.

Stay educated

Many people fear mental illness because they just don’t know what it is. By educating yourself and others on symptoms, signs and side effects, you could drastically change someone’s opinion on the need to promote mental health.

Accept that mental and physical health are equally important

Your body is only as strong as you make it, so don’t just care for your physical being. You can take a mental health day if you need it.

Recognize that you are not alone

NAMI states that 1 in every 5 American adults suffers from a mental illness.

The organization plans to end the stigma by opening discussion about mental illness on campus. Magri and the rest of the members host events called “NAMI Talks.” Their first talk took place last semester during suicide prevention week. Magri expressed her desire to cover

more topics during future talks, such as sexual assault, post-traumatic stress and mental aid workshops.

NAMI is open to all students. Go to RooGroups to sign up and receive information on upcoming meetings and events.

2 Comments

  1. Harold A. Maio

    February 1, 2018 at 12:53 AM

    One hopes you intend “Silencing those who say there is a stigma around mental illnesses”. They have done quite enough harm.

  2. kdn

    February 1, 2018 at 5:12 PM

    Mental health professionals should stop giving mental-illness labels to people (such as bi-polar, OCD, BPD, etc.), especially considering that diagnosis happens through check-lists (there are no objective tests because decades of research have not found any brain differences between normal people and so-called “people with mental illness”). Labels not only increase stigma, but could also lead to further progression of these conditions through nocebo effects (i.e., negative expectations leading to negative outcomes: opposite of placebo effects).
    If doctors want to use labels, they should be kept in their confidential records rather than patients being told “you have a disorder.”

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