Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Food For Thought

The bellow article was posted on the NAMI website. I found it to be interesting food for thought on Halloween. 

Are You Haunted by Halloween Stigma? Here’s What to Do

By Bob Corolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations
It is Halloween season again.
For all the fun that can be had carving pumpkins, eating candy and dressing in costumes, unfortunately October is also a month with Halloween stigma. Typically, horrors involve “haunted asylum” attractions with depictions of residents as violent monsters. In other cases, some stores sell “mental patient” costumes with straitjackets. These images perpetuate stigmatizing, offensive stereotypes of people living with mental illness.
NAMI loves Halloween as much as anyone else. But would anyone sponsor a haunted attraction based on a cancer ward? How about a veterans' hospital with ghosts who died from suicide while being treated for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Or one based on racial or ethnic stereotypes?
The U.S. Surgeon General has identified stigma as a major barrier to people reaching out for mental health care when they need it. People living with mental illness often internalize stigma as well, impeding recovery.

Mental Patient Costumes
Two British retail stores—one owned by Wal-Mart, Inc.—recently pulled mental patient costumes from shelves and apologized after protests.
Unfortunately, the sale of mental patient costumes continues in many U.S. stores. Last year, NAMI singled out, which claims to be the world’s largest costume retailer. This year, shaming extends to seasonal Spirit Halloween stores (owned by Spencer Gifts). In the face of these large retailers, what can one person do?
  • Send a protest to such companies through website “contact” features—or after a little sleuthing, to the company’s CEOs or public relations executives. These email addresses are sometimes listed under “corporate” or “investor” information.
  • Post a comment on the company or store Facebook page.
  • Contact the managers of local stores that carry such costumes and ask politely that they be removed. Enlist others to do so as well, and mention that British stores have already done so—including a chain that was Wal-Mart-owned. Local stores for and Spirit Halloween can be found on their websites. Ask that they share your concern with regional managers to be communicated to company headquarters.
However, recognize that it is a tough battle that involves advancing by inches over time rather than yards or miles. A Salon commentary celebrated the right to protest, but noted that the problem is bigger than Halloween: “If you want to be an insensitive jackass, you’re always going to have plenty of opportunity,” wrote Mary Elizabeth Williams. “If you think it’s cool to parade around in a manner that’s racially tone-deaf or clueless about mental illness, chances are you’re not confining your idiocy to one night a year anyway.”

Haunted Asylums
One of the first stigma reports received this year involves the Psychopath Sanctuary “Devil’s Folly Haunted Barn” near Allentown, Pa. Radio advertisements have proclaimed:
Alert, alert, alert! Several mental patients have escaped the state hospital. They are rumored to be hiding in an abandoned barn. Local residents have been reported missing. Neighbors of the barn have heard strange noises near the barn and believe people are being tortured there.
As reported in the Allentown Morning Call NAMI Lehigh Valley haslaunched a protest. So far, the response from the attraction operator has been dismissive. If you would like to support NAMI Lehigh Valley in their efforts, please send a polite email to the Devil’s Folly explaining why stigma is a serious public health problem:
This brand of haunted house is not confined to Allentown. For example, there’s one called the Insanitarium in Pinson, Ala. But what about Halloween attractions that might haunt your own community?

General Advice
  • Contact sponsors personally. Start a polite dialogue about how to resolve the controversy and to work together in the future. Ask them to remove offensive parts of any attraction or advertisements. In some cases, changing a name and using “haunted castle” and generic “monster” themes may be all it takes. Use this time as an opportunity for education. Remember to be flexible and patient. In some cases a sponsor can’t make changes immediately but will agree to do so in the future. If so, ask for a public statement or letter.
  • Alert other NAMI members, family and friends to phone, send letters or e-mail the sponsors. Utilize social media like Facebook or Twitter. Organize local leaders in the mental health community, especially psychiatrists, hospital CEOs or clinic directors.
  • Contact local newspaper editors and television news directors. Educate them about stigma surrounding mental illness and your concerns. If they have run promotional stories about a “Haunted Asylum”-type attraction, ask them to also run a story about the protest. Make the protest both a "news event" and a "teaching moment." Offer local individual or family members who have been affected by mental illness for personal interviews.  
  • Local civic organizations, high school clubs or similar community groups may be the sponsor of an offensive attraction. Keep in mind that they often have no awareness of stigma and did not intend to offend. They usually have a strong desire to resolve controversy. Be neighborly in finding solutions.
  • Be prepared for backlash. Many people in the community may say “It’s only Halloween” or even something nasty. Take the high road. Stay polite and respectful in the public dialogue. Even if it seems that too many people disagree with your position, you win simply by raising awareness.
Do You Agree?
Do you share concerns over Halloween stigma? Do you have other strategies to recommend?  Share your thoughts below.

The direct web address to this article is

Thank you for reading! Until next time...
Sara Breidenstein
Kissing Stigma Goodbye 

Monday, October 28, 2013

It's SAD Time!

It’s that time of the year again; SAD time!!! SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. The acronym of SAD couldn't be more appropriate!

Seasonal affective disorder is a depression that some individuals get every year around in the fall and winter months. SAD is caused by the lack of sunlight due to the shortened days during the fall and winter months . This lack of sunlight is believed to increase the body’s production of melatonin. The increase in melatonin causes some individuals to have symptoms of depression. Symptoms of this disorder include tiredness, fatigue, depression, crying spells, irritability, trouble concentrating, body aches, loss of sex drive, poor sleep, decreased activity level, and overeating which is also associated with weight gain. It basically includes many of the typical symptoms of depression. The severity of the symptoms varies from person to person, ranging from mild to severe. They typically begin in the fall and end in the spring.

This disorder is said to occur in 5% of adults with up to 20% of individuals having some symptoms of the disorder but not enough to meet the diagnostic criteria. seasonal affective disorder is four times more common in women than in men and the average age of onset is 23.

Light therapy is a popular treatment for individuals experiencing severe seasonal affective disorder. Light therapy uses artificial indoor lighting, such as a light box. The light box creates light that has much more intensity than a typical household lamp. Scientists say that it is not the type of light (i.e. artificial vs. natural sunlight). It is however, the amount and intensity of the light. Researchers have found that bright lights change the chemicals in the brain; how is not yet known. Medication, diet changes, psychotherapy, new coping mechanisms, and even a vacation to someplace warm and sunny are other forms of treatment.

Vacation to someplace warm and sunny to treat my SAD? Yes, please! Sign me up! Will insurance cover that? ;-)

Warm weather is said to boost the mood. Researchers at the University of Michigan recommend spending at least 30 minutes outside on days that are warm and sunny in order to see an improved mood. They also found that spending all of your time inside when the weather is sunny and enjoyable outside resulted in a decreased mood.  

The winter months definitely have a negative impact on me and on my symptoms. I tend to become more depressed in the winter. This leads me to have trouble getting out of bed, to cry easily, become irritable, have little motivation to do things I normally would enjoy as well as simple household chores, feel an overwhelming sense of exhaustion, and so on. The winter months typically equate to some sort of depression for me. I have to push myself a lot harder in the winter to accomplish basic day-to-day tasks than I do in the warmer months.

The warm weather usually works wonders for me. It puts me in  a much better overall mood. Being outside in the sun feels so great and so refreshing to me. I love how great the sunlight makes me feel. This past summer was different than most summers are for me. I was dealing with some depression this past summer. The summer sun just wasn't enough to bring me out the sadness that life situations had caused. The sun is surely not a miracle worker. However, it can bring an individual's mood up many cases.

Do you find yourself more down in the winter months? Is it harder to get motivated when the hours of daylight lessen? Do you feel more tired than usual during the winter months? Do you feel more irritable?

Individuals with affective disorders such as Bipolar Disorder and Depression have a higher likelihood of developing SAD. I read that as many as 20% of individuals with SAD have Bipolar Disorder. The winter blues that you may be used to getting every year could be more than just winter blues! You should talk to your doctor if you feel like the winter months bring you down!

Thank you for reading! Until next time...
Sara Breidenstein
Kissing Stigma Goodbye 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mental Illness In The Media

Much of our opinions are shaped by what we hear on the radio, what we watch on television and in the movies, and what we read in the newspaper and in magazines. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation conducted a survey in which the majority of respondents said that the mass media was their main source of information about mental illness. Unfortunately, the picture of mental illness that the mass media paints is very rarely an accurate one. This leads individuals to fear individuals living with a mental illness and discriminate against them.

Society possesses false perceptions towards individuals living with a mental illness. In many case, society perceives these individuals as dangerous, unpredictable, and as lacking a positive role in society among many other misconceptions. The media’s negative portrayal of mental illness perpetuates the already negative images of mental illness in society.  

Often times, I will read a story where the media points out that an individual has a mental illness when it has nothing to do with the story. They will casually throw it into an article in between entirely unrelated information. Recently, my father emailed me a story that did just that. The story was about an NBA player who had been suspended. Here is how they stated that he had Bipolar Disorder:

“West has Bipolar Disorder. He was suspended for the first 10 games of the 2010-11 season after pleading guilty to weapons charges in Maryland. Authorities say he was carrying three loaded guns and a knife when he was stopped for speeding on a three-wheel motorcycle in 2009.”

I have yet to figure out the relevance to the story that mentioning that he has Bipolar Disorder holds!

What are some of the common myths about mental illness that the media perpetuates?

People with mental illness are violent- Many studies have found this is the most common theme in the media about individuals with a mental illness. In reality, research has shown that mentally ill individuals are actually more likely to be victims than perpetrators of crimes.

People with mental illness are unpredictable- In reality, the majority of individuals with a mental illness are just ordinary individuals who go to work and school every day; who live normal lives just like everyone else.You may share an office with someone with Bipolar Disorder or be in a class with someone with major depressive illness and would never know they have a mental illness unless they told you. 

Individuals with a mental illness don’t get better- Anyone who has read my story or has known me over the years would know that this, in fact, is entirely false!

Teens with a mental illness are just going through a phase- A doctor tried to tell my parents this when I was 15. I am 28 now and my diagnosis has gone nowhere. My symptoms have improved greatly as a result of treatment and not just waiting them out. Claiming a mental illness to actually be a phase has to potential to be harmful to that individual because a better prognosis often times results from earlier diagnosis and treatment.

All mental health professionals are the same- Mental health professionals are made out to be individuals that should be either feared or laughed at; depending on the portrayal. Some mental health professionals are amazing, some are awful, and some are somewhere in the middle. I've seen them all in my time. It is important as a consumer of mental health services to know that they are not what the media makes them out to be. Continue to search for a good one if you haven't found one yet; don't give up.

Children’s shows and movies are certainly not exempt from this negative portrayal either. Take Beauty and the Beast for example. Gaston makes the attempt to prove that Belle’s father is crazy and that he should be locked up because of it. Many children’s shows have been found to use damaging words such as “mad”, “crazy” and “nuts”. Many have also depicted characters with mental illness as being aggressive and threatening, leading the other characters to fear them, avoid them, or disrespect them.

The negative depiction of mental illness by the media not only contributes to the stigma of mental illness in society but it also prevents individuals from seeking out the proper treatment for their mental illness.  

“There are people out there who could benefit from therapy but don’t go because they think it’s just for ‘crazy’ people or think all therapists are nuts — because that’s what they see in the media." Ryan Howes, Ph.D, a psychologist, writer and professor in Pasadena, California.

The media’s negative portrayal of mental illness can also lead individuals living with a mental illness to believe these negative messages and personally hold true the message true about themselves. 

Stigma Prevents Recovery!!!!

Let us not forget the TV therapists like Dr. Phil who have created an expectation among people that there are quick and easy fixes to complex problems. This just isn't reality!

Mental illness in the media is a topic that I have always found myself frustrated with but have never really known what to do about it. This is such a widespread issue and I've never really knew where to start in regards to tackling it. Please remember that educating about mental illness is extremely important for stigma! It is also very important to educate about how falsely media portrays mental illness. It is important to debunk those myths when they come up in conversation or if you are watching a show or a movie with someone in which mental illness is portrayed inaccurately. Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to mental illness; it creates stigma and discrimination!

The media has the potential to be a great outlet for positively changing the public view of mental illness. NAMI has an initiative titled "You Are Not Alone In This Fight".  They have put out a couple PSA's showing that Mental Illness does not discriminate and even some of our past presidents have been affected by mental illness. I have posted them in the past but will repost them shortly. This is a great way to use media for the positive when it comes to mental health stigma. Bring Change 2 Mind is another great organization that uses media positively. It absolutely can be done! Unfortunately, the negative portrayal of mental illness that is seen in the media outweighs the positive portrayal.

“The habits that took years to build, do not take a day to change”- Susan Powter

This quote is extremely relevant in regards to stigma as well!
Don’t give up, keep fighting it. It won't disappear overnight but don't let that stop your fight!

Thank you for reading! Until next time...
Sara Breidenstein
Kissing Stigma Goodbye 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

What It's Like to Live With Stigma Everyday

Living life with a mental illness comes with a variety of day to day challenges that many may not realize. Every day those of us living with a mental illness deal with things such as the symptoms of our mental illness, finding and taking the right medications to treat our illness (in many cases, finding the perfect mixture of multiple different medications), the visits to the doctor for medication management, the numerous side effects caused by the medications we take, the necessary blood draws to monitor medication levels and vital organ functions affected by the medications, other various issues we develop as a result of the medications (i.e. insomnia, long term weight gain, hypothyroidism, etc.), the long term outcomes from the various bad decisions we have made as a result of the illness- including poor financial decisions and relationship problems. The list could go on, but you get the point.

Just in case, we didn't already have our hands full enough with the many concerns that innately come along with having a mental illness, society has made certain to tack stigma onto this list. With stigma comes a number of serious, negative effects on a daily basis to those of us living with a mental illness. Yes, I did say daily; and no, most of us don’t directly encounter blatant stigma every single day. However, the effects of the societal stigma placed on individuals living with a mental illness is something we carry with us everyday even when not directly faced with the stigma. Stigma has a negative effect on our interactions with others and more importantly, it negatively affects how we view ourselves throughout life. Often times, individuals affected by stigma don’t even realize the negative effect it has on them, even though they are carrying it with them at all times. I personally, don’t walk around every day thinking about the role stigma plays in my life daily; that would  be extremely counterproductive. I do, however, believe that it is important to have an overall awareness of this for ourselves as well as for the purpose of educating others.
What role does stigma play in the lives of individuals living with a mental illness?

Because of stigma individuals living with a mental illness experience:

  • The loss of friends and sometimes even family members due to the symptoms of their illness.
  • Lowered self-esteem as a result of the stigma surrounding their illness.
  • An ongoing sense of shame and rejection.
  • Feelings of inadequacy.
  • Feelings of needing to hide his/her mental illness and therefore a part of him/herself.
  • A fear of the loss of one's job if it is found out he/she has a mental illness
  • An inability to obtain private health insurance coverage as a result of having a pre-existing condition (which is thankfully coming to an end with the ACA).
  • Self-blame for having the illness and any hardships it has caused.
  • An attachment of an individual's entire identity to one's mental illness.
  • A resistance to seeking help to treat his/her mental illness due to fear of how others will view him/her.
  • A negative outlook on the future.
  • The feeling of being dismissed by others because we have a mental illness.

This is just to name a few, this list could go on for days.

I personally have encountered many conversations, either that I have been involved in or have overheard, that have stigmatized individuals living with a mental illness. I hear people say things like, “oh, everyone’s a little bipolar” or “she’s so bipolar because she can't make up her mind” or “they're just crazy, they should just throw them in the nut house” or “they should just go kill themselves, they're never happy anyway” or “did you see that crazy person out there talking to themselves? They shouldn't be allowed on the streets.” That doesn't even begin to list the things I've heard but you all get the point. It hurts to hear those things, it’s infuriating to hear those things, and most importantly it breaks away at the self-esteem of individuals living with a mental illness each and every time negative comments like those are said to the individual, heard in the media, or overheard in a conversation.

Living with the stigma of having a mental illness is like walking around with a scarlet letter on your chest. The best way to fight stigma is to stand up, speak out, and educate others about what mental illness really is!

Thank you for reading! Until next time...
Sara Breidenstein
Kissing Stigma Goodbye 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Just because I'm not in the hospital doesn't mean I'm not sick!

This is a really great graphic. So many people discount what those of us living with a mental illness go through because it is invisible pain. We have to talk about our pain for anyone to know it exists. We have to explain what it's like to go through that kind of pain for anyone to begin to understand. Often times we don't have the words to explain it because we don't understand it ourselves; and often times people don't understand it even when we do have the words to explain it. This leads us to not talk about our pain because we get tired of people not understanding it and because we don't want to get judged for our invisible pain when individuals with visible pain (physical conditions) don't get judged for their pain.

Friday, October 11, 2013

My Story: Life with Bipolar Disorder

I just posted this with the same title as above, on the sidebar of the blog for people to easily access when they visit my blog. This will make information about myself, the author, readily available for new readers. I am posting it as a blog post as well so all of my tried and true readers will see it as well. This is what I posted:

Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Sara, I am 29 years old and I live just outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Here is a little bit about my story of life with Bipolar Disorder.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at the age of 15. I was initially given a misdiagnosis of clinical depression and was treated solely with an antidepressant. This course of treatment kicked me out of depression and right into the hands of full blown mania. It was the mania that ultimately landed me in the hospital after an intentional overdose of over the counter pain medication. I received the diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder while in the Emergency room. My trip to the ER was followed by a 2 week stay in a psychiatric unit at two different local hospitals. Those 2 weeks were the very beginning of a journey that forever changed my life; the journey of living with and overcoming a mental illness! This is a lifelong journey for me and so many others!

I did not leave the hospital at 15 thinking; “Great, I’ve got this mental illness and I’m going to take medication every day and everything will be alright.” In fact, it was just the opposite. High school was a time of complete turmoil for me. The addition of the onset of bipolar symptoms to the already tumultuous time that high school brings did not bode well for me. I cannot even begin to put into words how treacherous that time in my life was. It is a time that I do not want to remember and to be honest I have trouble recalling a good portion of it; which is for the best. It was in my senior year of high school that things began to turn around. At that point, I was finally faithfully taking my medication as prescribed. The change in me that accompanied my medication compliance was truly phenomenal. It was like night and day; two totally different individuals. During my senior year in high school I was able to take a half a day of classes in high school while taking a college course at the community college in the afternoon. I had hated school so much during these years. Taking college courses allowed me to discover my love for learning. It was a fantastic discovery to have made during a period in which I thought I completely hated education; it gave me the much needed desire to continue on to college.

Let’s fast forward 5 years from my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder to my 2nd psychiatric hospitalization at the age of 20. I was experiencing a very severe depressive episode and was feeling suicidal. I locked myself in the bathroom with the intention of taking an overdose. My dad came to the rescue by literally banging the door down before this could fully occur; I had taken a few pills but not enough to cause any damage. I voluntarily admitted myself to Sheppard Pratt, a psychiatric hospital in the Baltimore area. I stayed as an inpatient for six days, which was followed by a week in the day hospital. I took the semester off of college during which I was hospitalized and returned full force the following fall semester.

I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in 2007 and went out into the full time workforce. Two months after graduating college I went through the scariest experience of my life. I made a suicide attempt that I am extremely lucky to have survived. After taking an extremely large overdose of Tegretol, I woke up in ICU unable to walk or talk and remembering only small parts of what took place after I took the overdose. I spent quite a few very scary days in ICU with my family by my side, and I managed to come through it all and am so thankful to be alive!

Since that scary event in 2007, I’ve had my obstacles. I have been through a subpar marriage (which is an understatement), a divorce, a series of changes in my bipolar symptoms requiring medication adjustments, and various other stressors.

On the other hand, since that scary event in 2007, I have overcome the psychiatric symptoms that I have dealt with on each and every occasion, I have changed my outlook on life and on mental illness, I have taken a stand to fight the stigma of mental illness, I have told my story using various avenues, and last year, I graduated with my MBA degree!

In between the significant events that I wrote about, I have experienced many other rough patches throughout my life. I have experienced times of severe mania and times of severe depression. I have also experienced times of mania and of depression that were much less severe yet lingered over time before I achieved a successful medication increase or change. Finding the right mix of medications has not always been easy. In fact, it has often been tiring and cumbersome; sometimes feeling like more trouble than it is worth but I’ve always stuck it out. There have been obstacles to overcome through every step of the way as a result of my Bipolar Disorder, and I am happy to say that I have successfully done so on each and every occasion. That is not to say I don't still have obstacles. I have plenty that I’m faced with at any given moment, which is a lifelong battle. However, Bipolar cannot and will not stop me from anything! I proudly take the psychotropic medications I have been prescribed and stand tall for all that I have accomplished despite having a mental illness!

Bipolar has knocked me down temporarily, but I will never let it keep me down!  The stigma of bipolar kept me from ever discussing that I had an illness until recently. Last year, I went from hiding my bipolar in the back of a closet like a big dark secret to saying to the entire world “I have Bipolar Disorder and I am just like you!” I started this blog, Kissing Stigma Goodbye, to raise awareness of mental illness, fight the stigma attached to mental illness, and provide hope, encouragement, and a sense of belonging to individuals living with a mental illness and their loved ones. It provides me with the chance to use my experiences to help others and to show others that they are not alone in this fight! My bipolar disorder and my experiences have given me the gift to help others who may be struggling. It took me many, many years to realize how strong I am for all that I have overcome. I hope that my blog can help others living with a mental illness see that they too are strong, and they are not alone in this battle. I hope my journey and my story helps you in some way.

Thank you for reading! Until next time...
Sara Breidenstein
Kissing Stigma Goodbye 

Check out this inspirational video of a woman who beat the odds by beating Mesothelioma!

Check out this inspirational video of a woman who fought hard to beat mesothelioma after being told she had no more than 15 months to live. She now fights to provide hope to individuals who are struggling and to raise awareness of mesothelioma.

This is her biography written on her website:

In 2005, at the age of 36, and only three months after giving birth to my beautiful daughter Lily Rose, I was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. Upon learning of this life-altering diagnosis, my husband Cameron and I embarked upon a search to find the best mesothelioma treatment care available. Our search eventually led us to Dr. David Sugarbaker, a renowned mesothelioma surgeon at the Boston based Brigham and Women's hospital.Today, I am a seven-year mesothelioma cancer survivor and have made it my mission to help other mesothelioma victims around the globe. I share my personal story to help spread hope and awareness for others going through this, in hopes that one day no one else will have to.

Check out her video at:

While this isn't directly related to mental health, I think it is important to raise awareness to the various struggles individuals deal with as well. I found her video via an e-mail from her husband who saw my blog and asked if I were willing to share it on the blog!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

NFL Player, Brandon Marshall supports Mental Illness Awareness Week during Thursday Night Football!

Brandon Marshall, Wide Receiver for the Chicago Bears is wearing lime green cleats, in honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, during tonight's Football game against the New York Giants. Marshall was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 2010 and is wearing the lime green cleats to show his support and to raise awareness of mental illness. He went into the game knowing if he wore the lime green cleats, he would receive a fine from the NFL for violating their uniform rules. He plans to match the fine he receives in a donation to a mental health related charity. He also plans to auction off the cleats to donate that money to charity as well. 

Marshall is quoted telling Chicago reporters this earlier this week:

“One of the things I’m going to do is wear lime green spikes this week, the league’s going to hit me with a nice, little fine and I’m asking them to take my money and the money I’m going to match and give it to a great foundation doing some work in the mental health community."

How incredibly courageous of him to bring awareness to this cause during a nationally televised Thursday Night Football game! I have nothing but respect for this man for bringing his struggle to the forefront, it is not an easy thing to do! He is known for openly speaking about his illness and how he overcame the worst part of it. Thank you, Brandon Marshall, for standing up, speaking out, and being an advocate for those who can't speak out for themselves.

Thank you for reading! Until next time...
Sara Breidenstein
Kissing Stigma Goodbye 

Today is National Depression Screening Day!

The diagnosis and proper treatment of a mental illness is the key to success. Many individuals go without being diagnosed and therefore without treatment for months, years, and sometimes even decades! There are a number of reasons individuals go without seeking out mental health treatment. Among these reasons are stigma, a lack of understanding of mental illness, a lack of family supports, not enough time or energy, as well as a lack of money and affordable care options for treatment. Individuals with mental illness can and do lead successful, productive lives in society. Studies show that most people with mental illnesses get better and there are many that even recover completely. If you think you or a friend or family member may have a mental illness, there is help, you and/or they don't have to feel this way forever. Please don't wait any longer, the earlier an individual receives treatment, the better the outcome.

For a free and anonymous, online mental health screening, please go visit the following website. 
Please refer anyone to this website you feel could benefit from it as well.

You will see three options; College Students, Military & Their Families, and Members of the Public. Choose which ever option describes you, then you will choose your state and you will be directed to take the mental health screening from there.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mental Illness Facts and Numbers

Here are some more Mental Illness Facts and Numbers, provided by NAMI!

For the full list, please visit: 

~ Approximately 60 percent of adults, and almost one-half 
of youth ages 8 to 15 with a mental illness received no 
mental health services in the previous year. 

~ African American and Hispanic Americans used 
mental health services at about one-half the rate of 
whites in the past year and Asian Americans at about 
one-third the rate.

~One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age 
of 14; three-quarters by age 24.

~Despite effective 
treatment, there are long delays−sometimes 
decades−between the first appearance of symptoms 
and when people get help.

~ Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion 
in lost earnings per year.

~ Mood disorders such as depression are the third most 
common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both 
youth and adults ages 18 to 44.

~Individuals living with serious mental illness face an 
increased risk of having chronic medical conditions.

~Adults living with serious mental illness die on average 
25 years earlier than other Americans, largely due to 
treatable medical conditions.

~Over 50 percent of students with a mental health 
condition age 14 and older who are served by special 
education drop out−the highest dropout rate of any 
disability group.

~ Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. 
(more common than homicide) and the third leading 
cause of death for ages 15 to 24 years. More than 90 
percent of those who die by suicide had one or more 
mental disorders.

~ Although military members comprise less than 1 
percent of the U.S. population, veterans represent 
20 percent of suicides nationally. Each day, about 18 
veterans die from suicide.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mental Illness Awareness Week is this week!

In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, here are some Mental Illness Facts and Numbers, provided by NAMI!

~ One in four adults−approximately 61.5 million 
Americans−experience mental illness in a given 
year. One in 17−about 13.6 million−live with a serious 
mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression 
or bipolar disorder.

~ Approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 
experience severe mental disorders in a given year. For 
ages 8 to 15, the estimate is 13 percent.

~ Approximately 1.1 percent of American adults—
about 2.6 million people—live with schizophrenia.

~ Approximately 2.6 percent of American adults−6.1 
million people−live with bipolar disorder.

~ Approximately 6.7 percent of American adults−about 
14.8 million people−live with major depression.4

~ Approximately 18.1 percent of American adults−about 
42 million people−live with anxiety disorders, such as 
panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), 
posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized 
anxiety disorder and phobias.

~ About 9.2 million adults have co-occurring mental 
health and addiction disorders.

~Approximately 26 percent of homeless adults staying 
in shelters live with serious mental illness and an 
estimated 46 percent live with severe mental illness 
and/or substance use disorders.

~ Approximately 20 percent of state prisoners and 21 
percent of local jail prisoners have “a recent history” of 
a mental health condition.

~ Seventy percent of youth in juvenile justice systems 
have at least one mental health condition and at least 
20 percent live with a severe mental illness.

This is the note that I left on the Kissing Stigma Goodbye Facebook page this morning!

The time I have taken over the last couple of weeks to step back from the Kissing Stigma Goodbye Facebook page has given me the chance to realize that, at this time, the page is keeping me from achieving my goals, including my original vision for Kissing Stigma Goodbye. Kissing Stigma Goodbye started as a blog and not as a Facebook page. The Facebook page came a few months later as a means to promote my blog. However, the page turned into so much more and while it has been an incredible experience, it has taken away from the time I have to write, which is my real passion and love. My goal is to one day publish a book but I need the time to devote to that. There are four things that are of the utmost importance to me right now; my incredible career, my education, my writing and of course my mental health. While each and every one of you has been amazing and I will miss communicating with you, I need to allow the time for the things that are driving my future. There are many amazing mental health pages out there and I will share them with you over the next day or so. I will leave this page open so the history of it is not lost. I will also set it up so that each time I post a blog, it automatically posts to the page, so that you can all keep up with my blog if you so choose. I will post my blog web link in the comments and will also post a follow up post with the link to my blog. I will leave my e-mail address with you,, feel free to use it! I may return in the future in some capacity, but I don’t want to make any promises. Much love to all of you! Thank you all for the amazing support you have shown me! XoXo! ~Sara~

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I have made the decision to place my Kissing Stigma Goodbye Facebook page on hold for an indefinite amount of time. I started the page solely with the intent to promote the blog. It turned into so much more which has been an increidble experience for me and gave me the chance to provide support to so many individuals from all over (around 3,000 followers currently). However, it has been incredibly time consuming for me and has taken away from my ability to spend time writing for the blog. The blog was the reason I started Kissing Stigma Goodbye. I will miss my page and the ability to make connections with so many individuals but I am looking forward to bringing myself back to writing, which is what I love. I am working on writing a blog post right now, it is about a quarter of the way finished, you should expect it Monday or Tuesday! There will be much more writing to come from me in the near future!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Isn't he just handsome?

Champ at least, kindly lays on the pet mat that is on my couch. Caesar (my Jack Russell) knocks it out of his way and knocks the pillows down so he can lay on them too... I should have bought white couches not brown ones!