Overpowering Stigma With Community

For those who live with serious mental health conditions, stigma is constant companion. It follows them like a shadow they can’t escape, defining them by their illnesses in the minds of others and coloring the way they are seen in their communities with misconceptions. It causes them to be avoided or ignored at best, and often leads to discrimination and mistreatment. Continue reading

Six Ways to Help Others Become Aware of Mental Illness

Awareness of the truth about mental illnesses is a first step in learning to come alongside those whose lives are impacted by them. Although understanding and acceptance of these conditions are growing, much progress is required before those dealing with serious mental health challenges are met with support and friendship rather than fear. Below are six ways you can become an advocate for those living with mental illnesses by being able to help others gain awareness. Continue reading

Friendship Rather Than Fear

Rita, second from the left, spending time with some of her friends from The Well at the spring spiritual retreat.

Rita’s struggles with her mental health began nearly four decades ago. “It started when I had a baby,” she says. Her suffering from postpartum depression eventually led to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder—and a long and difficult path of dealing with a serious mental illness. It is with pain that Rita recalls being hospitalized and strapped to a bed due to the condition she’s dealt with for so long. Continue reading

Volunteering at The Well: Overcoming Stigma through Friendship

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Oscar Brown is in the kitchen of Cliff Temple Baptist Church in Oak Cliff, passing out paper plates filled with salad and pizza. He’s there to serve at Thursday Night Life, a weekly gathering when members of The Well Community are invited to worship and enjoy a hot meal together. Volunteers like Brown prepare the meal, then serve it to the members after a time of music and Bible teaching. Continue reading

Fighting Stigma: The Power of Little Things

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Lydia at the 2017 Well Community Spring Retreat

Seven years ago, Lydia was introduced to The Well Community by the man who would become her husband. She met Bill on the bus, and he shared with her about Jesus and invited her to join him at The Well. Two years later, he presented her with a ring, and the couple was married there, Lydia in a royal blue dress and Bill in a navy suit.

To Lydia, The Well is far more than the place where she got to know her husband. It’s a place of support in a world that often views those dealing with mental illness through the lens of stigma, treating them with prejudice or even cruelty. Continue reading

Four Barriers to Minority Mental Health

Four Barriers to Minority Mental HealthMental illnesses impact people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. While treatment can make these conditions more manageable, many minority populations face challenges that make it more difficult for them to get the care they need. When left untreated, mental health issues can become more severe and can make life with them increasingly difficult to navigate. Continue reading

Four Ways That Stigma Spreads

four-ways-that-stigma-spreadsStigma makes living with a mental health difficulty even more challenging. It reinforces negative attitudes about mental illnesses and encourages prejudice against those who struggle with them. The National Alliance for Mental Illness puts it this way: “Stigma reflects prejudice, dehumanizes people with mental illness, trivializes their legitimate concerns, and is a significant barrier to effective delivery of mental health services.”[i]

But, what causes this stigma to thrive and spread? Several factors perpetuate stigma, both in casual conversation and in the media.     Continue reading

A Well World: Great Love

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REFLECTIONS FROM ALICE ZACCARELLO, Executive Director

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

As I looked across the theatre at the nearly 80 people gathered to learn how to address the stigma of mental illness, these words of Mother Teresa came to my mind.

The speaker and panelists who came to participate in The Secrets We Keep: De-stigmatizing Mental Illness* are people who have done great things for the cause of mental health. But also with us were those who suffer with mental illnesses and others who care for loved ones. Their days are filled with small things of great love—all done under the cloud of stigma. Continue reading

Stigma-Free Zone

A Well World

The Well Community is the only stigma-free zone many of our members have ever known. It is the safe place where they are not judged for the way they dress; where their behaviors, unusual to others, don’t attract stares; where they are known as Karen, or Cindy or Miss Susie not as the “strange lady.” Continue reading