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

The Sting of Stigma

The Sting of StigmaMental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes or heart disease. Yet, even though these conditions affect one in five people in a year, they’re shrouded in stigma.

This stigma hurts millions of people every day—people like members of The Well Community. It tries to define them by their diseases and deems them unworthy of respect. It perpetuates prejudice and shame. As a result, it stands between people struggling with mental illnesses and opportunities for recovery. Continue reading

Six Ways to Stop Stigma

stop - sand-404047_1280Stigma is an all-too-common experience for those dealing with mental illnesses. For members at The Well, it does its damage daily.

The majority of those who live with mental illness experienece the pain of stigma. In fact, just one in four people with mental health symptoms believe that others are caring and sympathetic to those living with mental illnesses.[1]

Stigma sets people apart in the eyes of others, so that they’re lumped together with a stereotyped group and considered unworthy of respect. It defines people as their illness and gives them a mark of disgrace, perpetuating negative attitudes and prejudice toward them.

Stigma hurts those with mental illnesses in many ways, including preventing them from seeking care and encouraging discrimination toward them. But, each one of us can help to stop stigma, and in turn, stand up for those who face it. Continue reading