Disgrace. Shame. Mistrust. These are words that go hand in hand with stigma. And even though scientific research has shown otherwise, mental illness and addiction are still seen by many through a distorted lens as forms of indulgence, or weakness, or flaws in a person's character

Together we can reduce stigma and create positive change.

Among the many heartbreaking outcomes of stigma are silence and isolation. The result is that people in great pain remain quiet for fear of being  judged. As their isolation grows, the people in their lives become less willing to ask what's wrong.

The cycle perpetuates itself mainly because it prevents people from doing the one thing that will help the most: seek treatment.

Mental illness and addiction are real medical illnesses, just like heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.

Goals of the Stand Up to Stigma Campaign

The goals of the Stand Up to Stigma public awareness campaign are to:

  • Educate the public about the realities of mental health problems and addiction.
  • Offer steps we can all take to help reduce stigma.
  • Encourage people who need help to seek it without shame or fear.
  • Help increase empathy and understanding in our communities.
Facts about Mental Illness and Addiction

Don't people with mental health problems tend to be violent?
People will mental health problems are no more likely to act violently than anyone else in society. Only 3-5 percent of all violent acts can be attributed to people living with a serious mental illness. On the flip side, people with severe mental illness are more than 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population.

Isn't mental illness fairly rare?
Actually, it's fairly common. According to government statistics, one in five adults experiences mental illness, and about one in ten young people experiences a period of major depression (mentalhealth.gov, 2014).

Are psychiatric disorders really "true" medical illnesses like diabetes and heart disease?
They are. Psychiatric illnesses are the result of problems with the functioning of the brain. These problems often have genetic, environmental and biological causes. And they can be treated effectively!

Can't people who are depressed just snap out of it if they try hard enough?
Depression has nothing to do with a person's character or willpower. It's the result of changes in the chemistry and function of the brain. Fortunately, medication and/or psychotherapy help most people recover from depression.

Do people really recover from mental illness?
Yes. With the proper treatment, most people who suffer from a mental illness recover and go on to lead productive, rewarding lives that include work, family, and community activities.


How You Can Stand Up to Stigma

Add your voice to help shift attitudes toward a more respectful, informed, and compassionate way of thinking about mental health and addiction.

Get the facts.
Stigmas about mental illness and addiction are often based on myths. Studies show that many people who experience these problems are productive members of society who can benefit from treatment.
Choose your words well.

Words matter.
Think about the terms you use to describe people who experience mental health problems or addictions. Never reduce people to a diagnosis. Engage in respectful dialogue with others who may use hurtful language.

Use your influence.
We’re all connected to one another. Be a voice for fairness and truth with your friends, family members, and the young
people in your life.

How to Increase Awareness and Understanding

Share how you help increase awareness and understanding of mental illness and addiction. And remember to:

  •     Be inclusive.
  •     Check your own attitudes.
  •     Practice empathy.
  •     Offer your support.
  •     Be positive.
  •     Share the truth.
  •     Challenge media stereotypes.

Mental illness and addiction are real medical illnesses, just like heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. We believe that through education, empathy, and encouragement, people with mental illness and addiction can get the help they need and stand as equals in our society.

How to Get Involved

Get involved.

Engage with the people in your life and your community. Consider joining a peer support group or campaign that provides a safe platform to talk about how mental illness and addiction stigmas have affected you or someone you care about.

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers a range of peer-directed programs providing education and support.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. AA meetings are available almost everywhere.
  • Narcotics Anonymous offers peer support for individuals who have struggledwith addiction.
  • Nar-Anon Family Groups offer 12-step programs for families and friends of people who suffer from addiction.
  • Al-Anon Family Support Groups are peer-led groups that offer support and understanding to friends and family of problem drinkers.
  • ActiveMinds is a leading nonprofit organization that empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking.


Vermont Department of Mental Health: Find mental health services in your area

U Matter U Can Get Help provides resources and information related to youth suicide prevention.

Mantherapy.org, an interactive online mental health campaign targeting working age men (25-54) that employs humor to cut through stigma and tackle issues including depression and anxiety.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800--273-8255

The Vermont Suicide Prevention Center is dedicated to ensuring that people of all ages have the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and resources to reduce the risk of suicide.

Veterans Resource Locator

Vermont 2-1-1 Get Connected. Get Answers.

Social Media:

Follow us in social media to see updates, photos, and videos related to the Stand Up to Stigma campaign and other initiatives aimed at raising awareness around mental health.

Take the Stand Up to Stigma Pledge

Join us in standing up to stigma!

Take the Pledge

How We Stand Up To Stigma

We are known throughout our neighborhood as a "clean/sober" family whom both parents are in long term recovery, sustained remission. We openly talk about our lived experiences and struggles as well as healthy coping mechanisms with ALL the neighborhood kids, no matter what age. We don't hide it and we help the neighborhood kids understand that it isnt something you have to be ashamed of. ALL the kids know that they come over or talk anytime, and that this is a SAFE place. Some kids have even opened up about the addictions plaguing their own parents. We purposely offer a safe, fun, wholesome environment to model what a healthy, happy family model looks like, in recovery. It is possible. We hope it continues throughout the lives of these kids. Clean/sober 7 years and 15 years as parents. Let's talk about it, cause the struggle is REAL.
Springfield Family
Unconditional Love, listening, compassion, empathy, and loyalty. Talking to community.
Sarah Simoneau
My office is a judgment free zone for LGBTQ people and others who are marginalized. My practice is based in social justice. I have lived experience with mental health issues and am in long-term recovery. I have a life I could never have imagined when I was actively drinking and using drugs. I offer unconditional support as you claim your truth as only you know it and everyone's story is meaningful.
Robin Slavin, LMHC
I bring my own child to therapy to work through anxiety. I bring out “therapy” pet bunny into classrooms and explain how beneficial it is to talk to a therapist no matter what challenges you are facing.
I stand up to stigma by having honest conversations and providing information to others who do not understand or have been misinformed about Mental illness .
Michele Dihlmann
I am a mental health patient. I do not judge a person, ever.
Tara Brooks
By providing comprehensive and humanistic medical care to patients who suffer from severe mental illness.
I'm a recovering addict clean since 9/23/17 with the help of your hub program I stand up to stigma every day in many different ways a
Speaking openly about my personal experience. Being willing to ask for help when I need it and supporting others so they can learn to do the same. Practicing active listening. Taking passive suicidal ideation seriously. Doing research. Supporting my friends (and sometimes their families) who struggle with mental health issues - without judgment. Captain of a team for Out of the Darkness, a walk to raise funds for suicide prevention.
try to let people who need more understanding of addiction that there is a big problem today with this and it's not all about the person wanting to just feel high or good all the time. Addiction needs help and different types of treatment
I am open honest about my dual diagnosis. I am kind to everyone.
Shiela Sargent
My educating others, supporting those with SUD or in recovery and treating everyone as equals.
Stephanie Thompson
I have been battling my mental health since I was about 15, over the years it has effected me in all areas of my life because I was scared to be shamed, or judged by people for asking for help so I numbed myself with drugs to not feel. Today everything I have done to overcome my fears has turned around and took a huge chunk of my life away because of my mental health, my drug addiction I have lost my 3 children just recently because I have been struggling with anxiety, mental health issues DCF used every thing I have done to better myself and focused on my mental health instead, and usded that to destroy my life. My babies are now going threw everything I worked so hard for them not to ever have to feel, now are being traumatized being ripped away from their mother, due to my poor choices, of being scared to ask for help. I don't understand our society today and the way they think they were told people not to have children to grow up without parents and not be put through dramatic situations but they're ripping away from parents because of their mental health issues when I never wanted them to ever have to feel what I felt growing up without parents and do you think that my poor children are going to grow up now their own mental.
Beth Gay
By being understanding and compassionate towards those who are suffering.
I stand up to stigma by supporting my son with his recovery and being proud of all of his accomplishment!
Wanda Kirker
By listening, learning, and not jumping to conclusions about people. Everybody has a story.
Georgia King
By being an advocate and providing unconditional positive regard.
Hilary Lesniak
By becoming an RN, by speaking about mental health, by working on my own mental health, by reading the literature about mental health and staying current with various treatment modalities, by using evidence-based practice. By using my HANDS and FEET to affect change, not just my words.
Sarah-Cait Downing Robles
By making my work my life, and showing up everyday to support our most vulnerable community members with compassion and curiosity, rather than judgment and stigma.
Rhianna Kendrick
By engaging with those who struggle with addictions and encouraging participation in Support Groups.
Rev. David Tipple