Mental illness does not discriminate. But sometimes people do.

Stigma and discrimination against those living with mental illness is widespread and reaches into schools and institutions of learning, employment, housing, health care and media. It causes shame, prejudice and hopelessness and inhibits over half of those living with mental illness from seeking treatment. This creates serious personal and societal consequences. When shame is removed from the equation, people with mental illness will more readily seek treatment, achieve recovery and engage in meaningful activities.

Stigma is the largest obstacle to recovery, treatment and societal acceptance for people living with mental illness. Stigma and discrimination was a major theme during Sacramento County's Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) community planning process from 2005-2011. Continuing the efforts of the MHSA initiative, the Sacramento County Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS) initiated a multimedia, mental health promotion and stigma and discrimination reduction project. The goal is to fundamentally change negative attitudes and perceptions about mental illness and demonstrate that people living with mental illness are everyday people leading meaningful lives.

The anti-stigma and discrimination project ultimately seeks to eliminate the barriers to achieving full inclusion in society and increase access to mental health resources to support individuals and families. All of us can make a difference by making a commitment to end stigma and discrimination.


Did You Know?

Abraham Lincoln lived with severe depression and Winston Churchill lived with bipolar disorder.

Countless successful actors, writers, musicians and artists have lived with mental illness, including: Catherine Zeta Jones, Carrie Fisher, Margot Kidder and Ludwig van Beethoven.

News broadcasters Jane Pauley and Mike Wallace have publicly documented their bipolar disorder and clinical depression.

Olympian gold medalist Michael Phelps frequently discusses his Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder. Other famous athletes with mental illness include Golden Glove winner Jimmy Piersall, baseball players Dontrelle Willis and Zack Greinke and former football greats Lionel Aldridge, Herschel Walker and Greg Montgomery.

Read on to find out what's being done — and how you can help.

Project made possible by voter approved Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act.