Ending stigma is built into every service and program we offer. We work to build an understanding of mental illness, while also involving the people who are directly affected by it. We work to empower the people we serve, recognizing that they are the experts in their own lives. In addition to direct services, we offer Mental Health First Aid to our community, and provide outreach services to health care professionals and service agencies to help them better understand the needs of people living with mental illness.
Our members describe stigma as “black sheep syndrome,” that it feels like being beaten up, but by all of society. When asked how stigma has affected their lives, they said they’ve lost friends, received poor medical treatment, and that it has left them feeling completely alone.
Stigma creates a serious barrier to treatment of mental illness, and excludes people from other parts of society, such as employment, housing, and building and maintaining relationships. According to a Health Canada survey, 54% of respondents who met the criteria for various mental health disorders felt embarrassed about their mental health problems.