The SHINE Initiative provides leadership and funding to improve mental health literacy and awareness – eliminating stigma and the barriers it creates to treatment and progress.
Stigma, in its simplest term, is defined as a “mark of shame.” And mental illness has been the most stigmatized condition in our society, with stigma often cited as the predominant reason that two-thirds or more of all people who suffer from mental illness refrain from seeking treatment.
That’s why we’ve made awareness through education the cornerstone of the SHINE Initiative mission. It’s also our greatest weapon in reversing the stigma that has been
the perceived greatest challenge to better mental health.
In recent months we’ve shared very basic information with students in high schools throughout Central Massachusetts, including the following:
- Half of lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14;
- An estimated 300,000 young people in Massachusetts suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder;
We’ve engaged in meaningful dialogue with teens and young adults at St. Bernard High School (Fitchburg), Holy Name High School (Worcester), Worcester State University, Mount Wachusett Community College, and the College of the Holy Cross. Soon we will engage in conversation with students in the Ayer-Shirley Regional School System, in the Leominster Public Schools, and at Monty Tech (Fitchburg).
We are also sharing information – and personal family experiences – with caregivers, including parents, teachers, guidance counselors and youth mentors.
Together we are becoming “agents for change.”