Proud to be Stigma Free

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Amanda Kaczorowski, Staff Writer

A stigma is a mark or feeling of shame that is caused by the judgement and views of others. In the twenty-first century, the stigma surrounding mental illness is full of judgement, disbelief, and indifference. It is as a result of this judgement that many who suffer from mental illness do not seek help. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults are living with a mental illness, a statistic matched by children who range from 13 to 18 years of age. Lack of treatment can result in mood disorders such as bipolar disorder or depression, chronic medical conditions, or, in extreme cases, suicide. This is why Ramsey’s new “Proud to be Stigma Free” program was created in order to educate the public and end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

 

The program works to spread awareness about the situations surrounding mental illness, in addition to making Ramsey a Stigma-Free Zone. Superintendent of Ramsey Schools, Dr. Matthew Murphy, expressed his confidence in the initiative, as well as the community when he stated, “Ramsey is an incredible community. We have a lot of great things happening in our schools and in our town. I have no doubt that as the Stigma Free initiative moves forward the students and residents of Ramsey will embrace it and in the end make a positive difference for everyone.” In spreading awareness, Dr. Murphy wants the students and staff of Ramsey High School to know that there are many resources and people who are ready to aid them in their time of need.

 

Although the program is chiefly made up of staff members of the school district, students will soon have the opportunity to get involved with the movement. Already, the Stigma Free initiative is trying to expand its outreach, setting up a table at back to school night with posters featuring tips on how to support a friend and help them receive aid should they have a mental illness. There was also an opportunity to sign a pledge which outlines the attitude and actions necessary for a stigma free Ramsey. This includes seeking education about the stigmas of society, avoiding language that is potentially triggering, and preventing the bullying or alienation of people who may be suffering from a mental illness.

 

The Stigma Free program is designed to provide people who have mental illnesses with a community of supportive people to help them along their journey of recovery. The education and support of the Stigma Free program aims to impact the lives of those in need, and this impact will only grow as more people are made aware of its efforts.