‘Know Science. No Stigma.’ Foundation Theme for Mental Health Awareness Month

Know Science. No Stigma. Mental Health Awarness Month Social Media Awareness Drive by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
Know Science. No Stigma.

Visit the "Know Science. No Stigma." page to join the effort!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month - a concentrated, national effort by mental health nonprofit organizations, including the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, to reach out to the public, media and supporters to encourage them to speak out openly about mental health issues. During the month of May, the Foundation will use scientific discoveries showing the biological underpinnings of mental illness to debunk myths suggesting brain and behavior disorders are not bona fide illnesses. These myths—and the stigma they create—often keep people from getting the help they need to lead full, productive and happy lives.

The Foundation’s theme and slogan for the month is “Know Science. No Stigma.” The Twitter hash tag for the effort is #4BrainResearch. The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (formerly NARSAD) has raised nearly $300 million in private funds since 1987 and invested it into more than 4,000 research grants to better understand the causes and develop better treatments for a broad range of mental illnesses. Throughout the month the Foundation will feature images, messages, facts, videos and statistics related to mental illness research and stories of recovery. Everyone is encouraged to share these images and facts through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other channels and be a part of this awareness initiative. Much of the information to be shared is drawn from research studies funded by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD Grants, made possible through private contributions from the general public – 100% of contributions for research are invested in Foundation NARSAD Grants.

The first message for the awareness effort features a quote by Eric R. Kandel, M.D., a Nobel Prizewinner, Foundation Scientific Council Member and NARSAD Grantee who said: “All mental processes are brain processes, and therefore all disorders of mental functioning are biological diseases…Schizophrenia is a disease like pneumonia. Seeing it as a brain disorder de-stigmatizes it immediately.”

By speaking up about brain disorders as illnesses to be treated, we will progress on the road toward conquering mental illness. The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is committed to that and invites the public to join the cause.

Visit the Foundation Mental Health Awareness Month Page

Article comments

Stigmatizing mental illness is but one of multiple examples of how American Culture does not believe in science or the scientific method for understanding the world. Consider the data: 46% of Americans do NOT believe in evolution. The majority of US citizens do NOT believe in "global warming" or climate science. these numbers are vastly different from other industrialized nations which do accept science. So why are we surprised about stigmatizing mental illness, addiction, trauma, etc?

Although stigma is prevalent and scientific literacy is low, this does not mean that promoting mental disorders as having biological underpinnings will reduce stigma. Such an approach fails to deal with the complex interactions of bio and contextual factors. It also appears to contradict the growing body of evidence that suggests equating mental disorders such as schizophrenia with only biological abnormalities actually increased stigma and social distance. Finally, community surveys show that people tend to weigh biological factors more heavily for certain disorders such as schizophrenia and less for other disorders such as Major Depression. Any campaign that seeks to contradict these not unreasonable beliefs with a more simplistic message would certainly not receive my support.

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Please note that researchers cannot give specific recommendations or advice about treatment; diagnosis and treatment are complex and highly individualized processes that require comprehensive face-to- face assessment. Please visit our "Ask an Expert" section to see a list of Q & A with NARSAD Grantees.
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