No More Shame Sign Project
The No More Shame Sign Project was developed and implemented in October 2005 by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in collaboration with Advocacy Unlimited, Inc. and social clubs from across the State. The project consisted of a series of signs that were displayed by mental health consumers along a busy street in front of the Connecticut State Capitol.
In a teleconference, Self-Disclosure: The Public and Personal Effects of Revealing Mental Health Problems, sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA's) Resource Center to Address Discrimination and Stigma, Patrick Corrigan, Psy.D., identified three interventions used for changing public perceptions of persons with mental illnesses. These interventions were: protest, education, and contact with persons with mental illnesses. Contact yields strong effects and diminishes discrimination. Ignorant attitudes are easy to maintain when members of the public do not encounter persons who have overcome their psychiatric disabilities. Meeting persons with mental illnessness who are productive members of the community challenges stigmatizing attitudes.
The No More Shame Sign Project was developed with Dr. Corrigan's intervention of contact as a means of producing strong effects and countering stigma. The project involved the use of five large white foamboard signs that, when read in sequence, formed the sentence: We are not ashamed to say we have a mental illness. Are you? Each sign was displayed by a small group of people in recovery on a sidewalk along a busy street. The signs were spaced appropriately so that drivers could comfortably and safely read them as they passed. Each afternoon during Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 28, 2005, a contingent from a different Connecticut social club or advocacy group stood with the signs as commuters slowly drove past.
Estimates place more than 100 cars as passing the designated display area. Project participants were hesitant to interact with the passing public; however, after receiving positive acknowledgement, they became more comfortable. Many people who witnessed the display self-disclosed their mental health issues and thanked the participants for their efforts.
For further information about the project, contact Ronna Keil at 860-418-6985; fax: 860-418-6786; DMHAS, 410 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, CT 06134; e-mail: email@example.com.