By Alta. Newspaper Group
Alberta Health Services has launched a campaign to encourage people to seek help for mental health concerns and it aims to reduce the stigma often associated with mental illness.
It is called “Sleeve the Stigma” and you are likely to see signs of it in many communities on Thursday with the participation of Grade 1-12 students in the eastern half of the South zone.
The campaign was launched about two years ago in conjunction with the Bell Let’s Talk Day, and encourages students to put handmade, positive mental-health messages on the sleeves of take-out coffee cups. It is hoped that the messages will encourage those struggling with mental health challenges to seek help and that it is OK to do so.
So far this year more than 500 sleeves with messages for take-away beverages cups have been distributed to local coffee shops. The initiative is now expanding to Redcliff, Bow Island, Oyen, Brooks, Tilley, Rosemary, Duchess, Bassano and Taber, and will be used on Thursday – Bell Let’s Talk Day.
AHS in encouraging people who receive one of the messages to post it on social media: #SleeveTheStigma and #bellletstalk
With every use of the hashtag #bellletstalk, five cents will go toward mental health initiatives.
The key to combating stigma around mental health is to educate yourself and to focus on people rather than labels, reads an AHS press release.
A helpful way to recognize attitudes and actions that contribute to the stigma of mental health conditions is to use the STOP criteria, developed by the Canadian Mental Health Association:
S – stereotypes people with mental health conditions;
T – trivializes or belittles people and/or the condition itself;
O – offends people with mental health conditions by insulting them;
P – patronizes people with mental health conditions by treating them as less than others.
To learn more about how to get help or support someone you care about, visit: http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/amh/amh.aspx
You can also call the Mental Health Helpline for confidential support and information 24/7 at 1-877-303-2642.