No such thing as crazy - a great resource in the fight against stigma

Stigma is the single biggest barrier to effective treatment of mental illness today and I have discussed various aspects of it in several past columns.

In this week’s article I want to highlight one positive step in the ongoing battle to defeat stigma. Dr. Fred Miller, a psychiatrist and film maker in Evanston Illinois, has created an excellent resource to creatively engage teens and young adults about mental health issues.

After speaking in schools for many years, Dr. Miller became frustrated with the lack of interest surrounding the important topic of mental health and wanted a way to promote healthy attitudes and effectively raise awareness about symptoms and treatments for mental illness.

In 2003 he began working with a local film maker on a project called “There is No Such Thing as Crazy” and created a short documentary film in which five real teenagers talk openly about living with mental illness.

His first film won an award in 2005 for respectful and accurate portrayal of people with mental illness and Dr. Miller was commissioned to create a second film profiling different teenagers – called “Any Kid Like Me”.

Both films proved successful at engaging the student audience and Dr. Miller expanded his project by creating an interactive website to reach even more young people.

His website, www.nosuchthingascrazy.com, features resources for teens and parents, facts about mental illness and treatments, links to stories of young people experiencing different psychiatric conditions, tools for how to promote good mental health and links to a variety of excellent organizations, books and other mental health resources.

This is an excellent website loaded with valuable information and I highly recommend it as one more tool in the arsenal against prevailing myths and misinformation surrounding mental illness.

Not only is Dr. Miller’s website accessible to anyone, but it is also possible to contact him directly and order additional resources including his films for use by individuals, schools and other organizations when teaching about mental illness.

It is time for everyone to understand that mental illness is simply part of the human experience and really not much different than experiencing a physical ailment. No one should have to feel ashamed to seek necessary treatment.

I sincerely hope Dr. Miller’s work succeeds in reaching out to young people across North America and serves to decrease the stigma still surrounding mental illness.

 

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