Mental Illness Awareness Week 2019

Sacramento County, CA (MPG)  |  By Brenda Bongiorno, Sacramento County

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, CA (MPG) - Living with a mental illness can leave individuals and families feeling alone, sad and disconnected. In Sacramento County, it is estimated that over 300,000 residents are living with a mental illness. Roughly, one in five adults will have a diagnosable mental disorder during their lifetime and nearly one out of five children will experience emotional or behavioral difficulties.                                                       

With education, support and treatment, people can—and do—recover and live fulfilling lives. But, regrettably, the strong stigma surrounding the topic of mental illness and mental health treatment today discourages many from seeking help and support. In fact, only 43.3 percent of adults with a mental health condition received mental health services during the past year. No one should have to take on their mental health journey alone, especially as many of these conditions are extremely common and impacting many of us, no matter our ethnicity, race, gender, socioeconomic status, religion and age group.

Sacramento County’s “Mental Illness: It’s not always what you think” project reaches out to the diverse communities within Sacramento County and reminds family members, friends and individuals of all ages that they are not alone. 

Sacramento County is celebrating the progress it has made to raise awareness amongst residents – that mental illness is treatable and recovery is possible when education, family, peer and community support is made available. Since its inception in 2012, the “Mental Illness: It’s not always what you think” project has:

Established the Stop Stigma Sacramento Speakers Bureau which has trained 197 speakers;

Reached over 15,000 people at more than 315 Speakers Bureau events and inspired hope for thousands of others living with mental illness;

Provided over 200,000 program materials, including brochures, posters and tip cards in multiple languages, to nearly 100 community organizations and at Project events, reaching thousands of Sacramento County residents;

Advertised throughout the County, with content featuring real Sacramento residents living with mental illness; advertisements have included multi-lingual TV, radio, online and outdoor advertising which resulted in over 476 million impressions;

Hosted and participated in an array of local multicultural events which are regularly attended by hundreds of Sacramento County residents; these events help to raise awareness about the Project, mental illness and also spread messages of hope;

Developed a robust online presence and social media program that has resulted in more than 190,000 visitors to the website, over 9,000 likes on Facebook and 700 Twitter followers.

“’The Mental Illness: It’s not always what you think’ project was initiated by the Sacramento County Division of Behavioral Health Services following the passage of Proposition 63,” said Ryan Quist, Sacramento County Behavioral Health Services Director. “The project aims to reduce stigma and discrimination, promote mental health and wellness and inspire hope for people and families living with mental illness in Sacramento County.”

In celebration of its seven-year anniversary and in recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct.6-12), a national observance sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the “Mental Illness: It’s not always what you think” project is hosting the “Journey of Hope: Real Life Stories of Living with Mental Health Challenges Portrayed Through Art” exhibit at the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center. The exhibition pairs local writers with artists who illustrate their personal stories of struggle, hope and recovery with mental illness. 

For the first time ever, this exhibit will be displayed at three Sacramento County venues, including:

Elk Grove Fine Arts Center (Oct. 5-23) – Public reception: Saturday, Oct. 5, at 4 p.m.

Sacramento Fine Arts Center (Oct. 29-Nov. 17) – Public reception: Saturday, Nov. 9, at 5:30 p.m.

Crocker Art Museum (Nov. 28-Jan. 5, 2020) – Public reception: Sunday, Dec. 15, at 1 p.m.

This program is funded by the Division of Behavioral Health Services through the voter-approved Proposition 63, Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). For more information, please visit the Stop Stigma Sacramento website, and follow the project on Facebook and Twitter. Residents can also call 2-1-1 Sacramento (2-1-1) for free, confidential information and referral services for the community; residents who are hearing impaired can call 7-1-1 to connect to 2-1-1. Specialists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and interpreters are available.