Telling Our Story to End the Stigma of Mental Illness

On Saturday, Jan. 24, more than 170 community members came together for “Telling Our Story to End the Stigma of Mental Illness,” hosted by Sacramento County.  The goal of this community storytelling event was to increase awareness about mental health issues and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness among a diverse array of cultures through poetry, skits, short plays and cultural expression.

The program for “Telling Our Story to End the Stigma of Mental Illness” reflected the diversity of the Sacramento community.  Pamela Wu, the Director of Marketing and Public Relations at UC Davis School of Law, emceed the event and the audience was welcomed by Uma Zykofsky, the Deputy Director of Behavioral Health Services for Sacramento County.  Following the welcome, Albert G. Titman, Sr. blessed the event in his native Miwuk language.  The program included:

  • Hmong Story Cloth: Mental Illness Presented, a presentation of Hmong story cloth depicting two stories of people with lived experience and presented by the Asian Pacific Community Counseling Center.
  • Asian and Pacific Islander Community Perspectives about Mental Health and Wellness, a video segment discussing mental health and wellness from Asian Pacific Community Counseling.
  • Mental Health: Shame and Stigma in the Former Soviet Union, a video panel discussing the impact of political abuse of psychiatry in the former Soviet Union from the Slavic Assistance Center.
  • La Historia de Mi Vida, personal stories from individuals and family members with lived experience in the Latino community from La Familia Counseling Center Inc.
  • Eye to Eye in Telling OUR Stories, a presentation of speakers discussing mental health and wellness in the African American community presented by G.O.A.L.S. For Women.
  • Breath & Bones: Writing and Reading Our Way to Healing, prose and poetry from Arthur A. Benjamin Health Professions High School students about their personal experiences living with or caring for someone with mental illness.
  • Let’s Wake Up and Stop the Stigma, poetry from Jeraniqua Martin calling for an end to the stigma associated with mental illness.

The diversity in presentations reminds us that mental illness affects every cultural, ethnic, racial, economic, religious and age group. For additional information on the “Mental Illness: It’s not always what you think” project and resources, visit StopStigmaSacramento.org.