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Let's talk about mental illness

Posted Jan 28th, 2020

Talking about mental health and ways to reduce stigma is a daily focus for Barb Pizzingrilli.

So it heartens her to see the growth of public awareness campaigns, like Bell Let’s Talk Day on Jan. 29, focusing on encouraging people to talk about mental health and the importance of reducing stigma.

“Any opportunities that we have to talk about mental health and reducing stigma barriers for people are extremely important,” says the Director of Patient Care of Niagara Health’s Mental Health and Addictions Program. “Stigma can have such a profound and detrimental impact for individuals who experience mental health issues.”

Stigma, she says, can discourage people from getting the help they need, make recovery difficult because a person’s self-confidence is eroded and it can lead to isolation as people may fear negative responses from others.

Barb offers these tips to reduce stigma and support people with mental illness:

  • Talk openly about mental health.
  • Take the time to talk to family or friends about mental health.
  • Educate yourself and others. Ask to hear personal stories of mental illness. Ask questions to understand and learn more.
  • Be conscious of language. Don’t use hurtful or derogatory language.
  • Show compassion for people with mental illness. Compassion can be shown by saying a kind word or making eye contact with someone.
  • Speak out about stigma. If you hear stigmatizing language, take a stand and provide feedback to others about this.

In need of help?

  • If you or someone you know is in distress and in need of immediate help, please seek emergency care or call 911 immediately.
  • If you are in crisis and just need to talk with someone, call COAST Niagara 1-866-550-5205.
  • If you would like to know more about mental health and addiction resources across Niagara, call the Access Line at 1-866-550-5205 or visit their website.
  • Learn more about Niagara Health’s Mental Health and Addictions program here.


Niagara Health System