How about starting a project whereby people who have relatives, friends or acquaintances who suffer from a mental illness, attend senior level classrooms of universities where the students are learning to be journalists. They will all benefit from the information provided about the various symptoms of mental illness, treatment and recovery. There should be a consumer (a person suffering from a mental illness) as well as a social worker who will do some explaining if necessary. This will be a good opportunity for the students to get an inkling of what it is like to live daily with a mental illness, both for the consumer and his/her family.
They will be able to talk about the misunderstanding, fear and stigma associated with this illness. Stigma towards people with a mental illness has a detrimental effect on them and their families.
Stigma means a mark or a sign of shame or disapproval. It emerges when people feel uneasy or embarrassed to talk about behavior that they perceive as different. The stigma surrounding mental illness is so strong that it places a wall of silence around the issue.
We need volunteers to watch the media for examples of material that inaccurately or negatively portray mental illness. By making phone calls,writing letters or e-mails to the editors or reporters as well as op-ed pieces, volunteers can tell the media what was done in the wrong way and how it harmed people. They can also point out ways of rewriting the same thing in a more delicate and empathetic way.