A stigma is a mark of disgrace associated with a particular quality or person. Even in today’s more-progressive society, people often foster stigmas toward those who have a mental illness. These stigmas lead to discrimination, misunderstanding and fear. And these stigmas stifle progress toward leading better lives.

Let’s be stigma-free in Central Iowa.

Stigmas are born from misunderstanding — so let’s start educating ourselves and others.

Learn the facts about mental illness and help spread them to others. Don’t stand by as others keep stereotypes and misinformation alive. When we learn what mental illnesses are, their causes and symptoms, their treatments and how to talk about them, we’re helping to dispel stigmas and provide the support and help those with mental illness need.

Stigmas overshadow individuals — so let’s see each person and not define them as their illness.

Many Central Iowans live with a mental health condition, and no two people have the same story, experience or journey. Don’t see your neighbor as the depressed guy but instead the man who has depression. Don’t let your friend be anxious but someone who suffers from anxiety. Listen to people’s unique stories. Treat others — all others — with kindness and empathy.

Stigmas dissuade people from helping make a difference — so let’s show we care and take action on mental health issues.

Those with mental illness often struggle to find treatment and recovery in our mental health care system. Help us make support and hope accessible to Central Iowans, and others, by pushing for better legislation and policies.

Join the campaign to turn stigma into hope.