Mental Illnesses Treatment Support & Programs NAMI Advocacy Find Your Local NAMI NAMIWalks
 | Print this page | 

StigmaBusting Network and Alerts


NAMI Campaign to End Discrimination
May 2001.

Contact Information:

Ms. Stella March

NAMI StigmaBusters, with its dedicated advocates across the country, are successfully fighting the pervasive and hurtful stigma that exists toward persons with mental illness -and- also commending print media, TV and films that send accurate messages to the public.

NAMI StigmaBusters now number 7,500. Numbers do count, so let your voice be heard.



We hope to meet many of you who are attending NAMI CONVENTION 2001 in WASHINGTON, D.C. JULY 11TH TO 15TH, AT THE WASHINGTON HILTON. My STIGMABUSTERS WORKSHOP will be held on Friday morning, July 13th from 9:00 to l0:15 AM.

The panel for this Workshop titled "From Local to International" includes a publicist who encountered stigma in her personal and professional life when she disclosed her bipolar illness; Otto Wahl, Ph.D., professor at George Mason University, author of surveys and books about Stigma; and Barbara Hocking, Executive Director of SANE, located in South Melbourne, Australia.

At the Saturday night banquet, NAMI will present media awards for outstanding print and TV media coverage of mental illness. Sally Field will receive an award for her outstanding acting as Maggie Wycenski on ER. The award, to be shared with ER Executive Producer John Wells, is given to honor an accurate portrayal of a person with severe mental illness. We have invited both Field and Wells to attend the banquet to receive their Award. Maurice Benard, star of ABC's General Hospital will be attending the banquet to receive the Lionel Aldridge Award for courage, leadership and service to others with severe mental illness. Benard has bipolar disorder and is one of the first Hollywood actors and Hispanic celebrities to have spoken publicly about his experiences.

For convention registration information, click on HOME above.


We have received many reports from parents about children's TV animation series and comic books:

- Green Lantern comic book series " While Rome Burns" with its villainous character Nero who has schizophrenia.

- Saturday morning popular TV animated series "Max Steel", featuring one of the villains he fights named "Psycho."

- A cartoon test strip, "Agnes" which used offensive language and inaccurate concepts i.e. "crazy-woman- hair," "look-of-lunacy," and restoring "a crazy woman to mental health." by combing out her frizzed out, wild hairdo.

We have sent a letter to the editor/producer/writer for each of the above, advising them of the offensive and dehumanizing nature of their creation. We have not received a response. However, should they continue the described story line or names, please inform us and we will turn on the StigmaBusters Alert.

"As The World Turns"

The long time soap series "As the World Turns" included a recent story line where the character, Julia, commits herself to a psychiatric ward of a hospital, pretending be "insane." Stereotypical language such as: "looney," "nuthouse," "psycho," and "lunatic" was used repeatedly by the other characters.

We have written to the producer reminding him that a few years ago this soap opera received honors for its sensitive treatment of AIDS and AIDS patients and advised him that mental illnesses including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, OCD and panic disorder deserve the same sensitivity and respect; and that this situation was de-humanizing and hurtful to real persons struggling with a real mental disorder which are devastating as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's diabetes, HIV, etc. We will be following up!


"A Caveman's Valentine" with Samuel Jackson portrays a homeless man with paranoid schizophrenia. This film which played in theatres this spring was based on a mystery novel with the same title.

The film provided a welcome change in the story line, which did not stereotype the lead character. He lives in cave in a New York park. He hallucinates and has delusions, but he is not violent. In fact, he is portrayed as an individual struggling in his own way with his disorder, who actually becomes the hero of the movie by solving a murder mystery.

The video will be out this summer. Watch for a review of "A Caveman's Valentine" in the up- coming issue of the NAMI ADVOCATE.


Dear Stella.

"I work as a full-time Psychiatrist but am also involved in challenging media misrepresentations of mental illness. In fact I gave your StigmaBusters service honourable mention in an article I published in the Psychiatric Bulletin 2000; Volume 24: pages 364-365. I have a specific question for you about Advertising. We (a number of UK user groups and the Royal College of Psychiatry) are about to challenge the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) who have consistently overruled our complaints about offensive ads. They say that people with mental health problems are not a group and the majority of the general public do not find offence in slogans about "psychos" or other "witty" mental illness references."

I invited him to speak at our Workshop, however he could not attend due to a conflict that week with a Conference of the Psychiatrists in the United Kingdom, with this note:

"I quote your alert service at every opportunity - on web sites and journal articles. I hope to create a link to you on in the coming weeks. Your service is a terrific example of what can be done - at modest costs - to stop offensive labeling of people with mental illness. Keep up the good work. I cannot attend your workshop - as it happens, that week is the annual meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists"

This is but one of hundreds of letters received during past months from StigmaBusters in this country and abroad. We appreciate each letter, which in some instances indicates an opposing point of view about portrayals and/or story lines in TV or film. We cannot answer all letters individually, but we do read, consider and appreciate your opinions.

Please follow our Guidelines for reporting major stigma occurrences. (August '00). We do require a number of complaints about the stigma situation before we send out an Alert. Keep your comments, and questions coming.

Our numbers are escalating and numbers do count. We do make a difference!

Stella March, Coordinator
NAMI StigmaBusters Email Alert

New! Receive stigma alerts via e-mail! Click here to learn how you can join NAMI's stigma alert list to receive regular stigma alerts.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 | Print this page | 


Support NAMI to help millions of Americans who face mental illness every day.

Donate today

Speak Out

Inspire others with your message of hope. Show others they are not alone.

Share your story

Get Involved

Become an advocate. Register on to keep up with NAMI news and events.

Join NAMI Today
  • Follow NAMI
  • Contact Us
    • NAMI
    • 3803 N. Fairfax Dr., Suite 100
    • Arlington, Va 22203
    • Main: (703) 524-7600
    • Fax: (703) 524-9094
    • Member Services: (888) 999-6264
    • Helpline: (800) 950-6264