With an OPEN mind
With an OPEN mind is a public education program in the Thunder Bay region of Canada. It aims to reduce myths and misconceptions surrounding mental illness through the shaping of public attitudes so that people with mental illnesses have an improved sense of acceptance, purpose, and freedom in their communities.
In 2002, through recommendations from the Northwest Mental Health Implementation Task Force in Canada, a public education plan was created by the Public Education Work Group. The primary goals of the plan centered on increasing community awareness of mental health, and reducing stigma and social distance between the community and individuals with mental illnesses.
With an OPEN mind became the media outlet for the goals set forth by the Public Education Work Group, and the program was officially launched on April 12, 2006. The program is designed to increase awareness and knowledge of mental illness and treatment options, improve public attitudes about individuals with mental illness and their families, and generate action to eliminate discrimination and prejudice against individuals with mental illnesses.
With an OPEN mind believes in countering stereotypes about mental illness through meetings between the public and recovering members of the community who have mental illnesses. The program actively works to make contact with business leaders, community groups, health professionals, and other target audiences in order to facilitate presentations involving individuals with mental illnesses. The program hopes that the direct contact generated by these presentations challenges a persons assumptions and fears and may gradually change a persons attitude towards mental illness.
With an OPEN mind also has a youth group that is developing an interactive dramatic presentation about mental illness that will be presented to schools in the fall of 2007.
The program complements their presentations with professionally designed posters, brochures, displays, and an interactive Web site. The promotional materials used by the program feature local members of the community and their stories.
Evaluations of the programs presentations have shown positive outcomes, including a number of individuals who felt comfortable enough to discuss and share their own personal experiences with mental illnesses.
To learn more about with an OPEN mind, access the program Web site at www.withanopenmind.com. Additional information can be obtained by contacting Brook Latimer, Public Education Coordinator, St. Josephs Care Group, at 807-346-5226 or via e-mail at LatimerB@tbh.net.