After all that has been going on with my brother, I have even more reason to fight stigma. One of the ways I plan to raise awareness in the future is by reaching students on the elementary, high school and college levels. Since there are so many misconceptions surrounding mental illness, I think that education is key. I learned so much about AIDS and drugs in the classroom. When AIDS became an epidemic, so many people were afraid of contracting the virus. Many thought that you could catch it from a kiss or even a touch. This of course was not the case but by educating others about the facts, we started to strip the stigma. I plan to eventually create a national campaign which would reach the public but for now, I will focus on creating educational programs.
In a classroom setting, the mind is very open and students are just waiting to absorb information. They will take this education and apply it in real life situations. I hope to replace fear with empathy and shame with courage. I plan to incorporate my art exhibit, posters and much more information into a single DVD movie. Part of the lessen plan will involve discussion and possibly a written assignment. These are just ideas:)
I was recently invited to join my local mental health board. This is a great opportunity for me to get involved in my community and connect with local school officials. Also, the board encourages my mission and said I should write a grant. I think it is healthy for me to funnel my frustrations into a positive goal. Well, I thought you might want to know how I am putting my skills to good use. Thank you for all of your support.