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Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness

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The Washington Post published a wonderful article on the sense of shame that surrounds mental illness and how people are overcoming that shame and stepping out of the shadows.

Ask your students to read the article and respond to the following questions in class as a small group discussion, online through a class discussion board, or as an out-of-class written assignment.

1. Those interviewed for the article expressed a fear of coming out as having mental illness. What is the stigma associated with mental illness, and why would those with mental illness fear others knowing?

2. The article identifies several ways in which people with mental illness are coming out publicly. What are those ways? If you were to come out publicly as having mental illness, which of those ways would you choose and why?

3. Visit the blog Choose one blog post and answer the following.

a. What is the person’s name and what they do in life (short descriptions are typically at the end of each post)?

b. What type of mental illness do they have?

c. Describe their milestone events, such as their first memory of symptoms, their first diagnosis.

d. What’s it like for them to live with mental illness?

e. What reactions did you have as you read their story?

Itkowitz, C. (2016, June 1). Unashamed and unwell. Retrieved from ​[Note: Published in the paper on June 2, 2016 if you're looking for it in a library database.]

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About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology in community colleges since 1992, and has been at Highline College in the Seattle area since 2001. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award . She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed.