Letters to the Editor

Program works to end stigma of mental illness in San Luis Obispo County

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

To my fantastic neighbors in Templeton, I understand your fear about a mental health hospital. I feel that way about five oil tank cars going through San Luis Obispo County each week. So I’m trying to raise my awareness about rail safety. I get your fear!

The way I understand it about mental health issues, it’s fear and stigma. Stigma is what holds people back from getting the help they need. It’s discrimination that people feel when others ignore, reject, avoid, exclude, label or fear them.

Seriously insane folks are housed at Atascadero State Hospital. That gives me some comfort. What about the rest?

Nationally, one in four adults and one in five youths ages 13 to 18, have some form of mental illness. The point is we all have something — mental health conditions are common.

With the mental health program that we have for high school students in San Luis Obispo County called “Ending the Silence,” we raise awareness about mental health conditions, replace stigma with understanding and hopefully change perceptions.

Joe Johnson, coordinator, Ending the Silence, NAMISLOCO