MDSC’s “Elephant in the Room” campaign challenges preconceptions regarding mental illness

Tom Henihan
Express Staff

Northern Lakes College, Smoky River campus in McLennan hosted an hour-long “Elephant in the Room” session on November 7, to address matters associated with mental illness.

Elephant in the Room is a national campaign initiated by Mood Disorders Society of Canada (MDSC) to improve awareness and combat the stigma and stereotypes associated with mental illness.

When displayed, the program’s central symbol of a blue elephant signifies that a person is free to talk about matters of mental illness without being perceived as different or made to feel shame or embarrassment. The elephant guarantees respect, support and understanding when confiding about matters related to mental health.

Verna Wittigo, a Mental Health Recovery Worker and Mental Health Promotions Facilitator with Alberta Health Services in High Prairie presented the Northern Lakes College session.

The hour-long presentation covered matters such as myths about mental illness, stigmas, and the attitudes contingent with all these preconceptions. Those negative attitudes include the belief that most people suffering from mental illness are dangerous or violent, that they are weak and a myriad of other preconceptions that make an already difficult reality even more difficult.

Verna Wittigo also spoke of a “Wellness Recovery Action Plan,” a self-managed initiative for dealing with psychiatric illness that can be accessed online.

Another “Elephant in the Room” session will take place at the Cabin in Falher at noon on November 22.

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