SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)
Northern Lakes Community Mental Health Stigma Busters
Traverse City, Michigan
The Stigma Busters program of Northern Lakes Community Mental Health agency is a five-part project funded by a Michigan Department of Community Health Federal block grant designed to counter the stigma associated with mental illnesses and normalize help-seeking behaviors.
A statistically reliable telephone survey, administered by Northwestern Michigan College Center for Business and Industry in December 2006 measuring community attitudes, revealed that stigma does exist in the Northern Michigan service area of Northern Lakes Community Mental Health agency. Additional consumer forums held by the Consumer Advocacy Council indicated that most mental health consumers have had personal experience with stigma.
The Stigma Busters program was developed in the summer of 2006 and officially began in October of the same year. The program consists of five parts including:
- Establishing a speaker bureau,
- Sponsoring a series of documentaries with panel discussions on local access channels,
- Sponsoring art, photography, and craft shows,
- Displaying faces of mental illness photography exhibits, and
- Creating and conducting an anti-stigma media campaign.
The five-part program was developed to counter the stigma that exists in the community by providing opportunities for the public to have direct contact with individuals with mental illnesses.
As part of the program, staff held various community meetings in the Northern Lakes service area to organize stigma busting teams that would be used to provide support to the program. Individuals involved in these teams consisted of mental health consumers, family members, Toastmasters public speaking club representatives, the general public, and program staff members.
The community involvement with the program has resulted in several positives outcomes including recovery stories, personal testimonies, photographs, art work and other products. These products will be disseminated in the community through a variety of ways, including shows, exhibits, events, the Web site, and mass media. The stigma busting groups will be maintained and strengthened through creation of a new Recovery Center of Excellence and a new Community Mental Health Recovery Coordinator position.
Furthermore, a second community telephone survey will be conducted at the end of 2 years to measure changes in public attitudes about stigma.
Northern Lakes Community Mental Health welcomes any member of the community to join its stigma busters groups. For more information, contact Cynthia Petersen, Northern Lakes Community Mental Health, 105 Hall Street, Traverse City, Michigan 49684, or call 231-935-3099, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Northern Lakes Community Mental Health, visit www.northernlakescmh.org.