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PHOENIX, AZ (May 1, 2018)-With one in five 1 Americans experiencing mental illness each year , Arizona is calling attention to the impact that mental health has on everyone’s overall health and well-being. Joining with national and local organizations around the country, Arizona recognizes May as Mental Health Awareness Month, as proclaimed by the Honorable Doug Ducey, Governor of Arizona.
While mental illnesses are common and treatable, the stigma surrounding mental illness can be a barrier to treatment when someone feels ashamed to ask for help. Misconceptions of mental health conditions, the language we use to describe those conditions, and off-hand comments that label people by their condition often contribute to a culture of stigma.
“The way we perceive mental illness and mental health is, unfortunately, still surrounded by stigma. People with mental illnesses must often cope with the sting of social stigma in addition to their illness,” says Kathy Bashor, bureau chief of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) Office of Individual and Family Affairs (OIFA). “Luckily, stigma is 100% curable.”
The AHCCCS OIFA is leading efforts to reduce stigma surrounding mental illness. During May, the state agency will offer training to its employees, developed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, to help participants understand the impact of stigma and how to create a stigma-free company culture. The OIFA web page offers examples of how a simple person-first word choice can communicate your support to someone who’s living with mental illness. For example:
To learn more about how your language choice can reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, visit www.azahcccs.gov/OIFA.