A Note on Embracing Hope, Fighting Stigma

There are no quick fixes for the challenges of fighting stigma surrounding the treatment of mental illness. There are no simple solutions for improving mental health policy, just as there is no easy answer for individuals and families struggling day by day with illness.

It’s difficult because the range of mental health challenges, from mild depression to serious and persistent disorders, is daunting. Additionally, stigma has been a significant reason why mental health issues have not received the attention they require in the medical, insurance and public policy arenas. This must end.

Fragmentation in care, services and advocacy has further exacerbated the circumstances of ensuring that understanding, care and fairness are available and accessible to those who need it.

There is reason to embrace hope. This is an important moment when strides forward are possible.

In recent months, we have seen several plans emerge with an aim of transforming the approach and delivery of mental health care. The confluence of these plans suggests that the practical necessity of transformation cannot be ignored: 

Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton has proposed a comprehensive mental health care overhaul, based on a range of strategies. A bipartisan bill approved in the House of Representatives would take different strategic approach but is no less significant. In NYC, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is advancing an ambitious community- based initiative under the banner Thrive NYC.ing the approach and delivery of mental health care. The 

confluence of these plans suggests that the practical necessity of transformation cannot be ignored:

These wide-ranging approaches highlight significant need. They also demonstrate recognition that the status quo is not acceptable.

This is a time when people who care about these issues must join together for serious discussion and hard work to help craft improvements. That requires stimulating thought with fresh perspective and understanding to find more common ground, build broader partnerships and coalitions, and strengthen the resolve for change.

These are some of the reasons the Mental Health Foundation and the Institute for Behavioral Healthcare Improvements are collaborating to bring together thought leaders from range of perspectives in NYC on Thursday Evening Nov. 10. The program will include special insights from Dr. Herbert Pardes of NY Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Pardes brings unique perspective from decades as one of the world’s leading voices on mental health. There is no charge to participate.

It is our hope that the program will spark ideas, discussion, debate, relationship-building and simply be the beginning of a process of bringing people and groups together to better advance the opportunity to embrace hope. Please join us and be a part of this moment by submitting your thoughts and comments for discussion to [email protected] and RSVP for the event online or by email

- Stephen Madarasz, Board President, Mental Health Foundation
The Mental Health Foundation’s mission is to fight Stigma by promoting best practices that encourage people to seek mental health care and ensure that it is available and accessible. We welcome perspectives in this forum that help to open dialogue, support that mission and embrace hope.