Psychology Society raises awareness on mental health stigmas

On Saturday, Sept. 28, the SEU Psychology Society participated in the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk to raise awareness on stigmas associated with mental health conditions. The three-mile walk began at the Long Center and ended at the Texas Capitol.

According to the Mayo Clinic, many people who live with mental health conditions face stigmas such as: 

  • Reluctance to seek help or treatment
  • Lack of understanding by family, friends, co-workers or others
  • Fewer opportunities for work, school or social activities or trouble finding housing
  • Bullying, physical violence, or harassment
  • Health insurance that doesn’t adequately cover your mental illness treatment
  • The belief that you’ll never succeed at certain challenges or that you can’t improve your situation

Sophie Sanati, secretary of the Psych Society, said, “The stigmatization of mental illness is a very prevalent issue in society right now. Stigma can easily lead to discrimination, such as someone making a negative comment about your mental illness or avoiding you because they assume you are unstable or dangerous.” 

However, the public are not the only ones who have stigmas over mental illness. Even people who are going through conditions themselves have internalized shame.

In recent years, stigma caused by mental illness has declined. According to the Lindner Center of Hope, exposure to the facts of disorders has helped educate people about mental health. Advocating for mental health has gradually decreased stigma and encouraged people to seek treatment.

“Many people have been blamed for their mental illness instead of being encouraged to seek help,” Sanati said. “It is important to remember that we all speak openly about mental health, show compassion for those with mental illness, and choose empowerment over shame.”

With signs that had slogans such as “Break the Stigma” and “Mental Illness is nothing to be ashamed of” during the walk, the Psych Society hoped to achieve their goal of raising funds to help individuals and families in Central Texas.

As a way to combat the stigma surrounding mental illness, the Psych Society officers joined NAMI’s movement to raise awareness and funds.

The Psych Society began fundraising at the beginning of the year but it wasn’t promoted to the public. They had a goal of $200 and were only able to collect about $60. However, NAMI Central Texas is trying to raise $350k and is currently at $329k. Anyone who wishes to donate and help the Psych Society reach their goal can do so here.

“One of our goals as a club is to get our members as well as the entire student body more involved and interested in ways that we can help our community grow stronger,” said Sanati. “The NAMI Walk is a celebration of recovery and allowing the world to know that we care, it was an excellent way for us to make a positive impact.”

Students can learn more about NAMI is through their website.

Psych Society holds meetings on the third Tuesday of every month at 7pm in JBWS 264. Their next meeting is Tuesday Oct. 22.