Mental Health Issues Are Common…
Mental illness affects one out of every four families in Missouri, yet many Missourians lack a basic understanding of mental illness and may avoid seeking effective treatment because of the stigma associated with these illnesses.
The negative portrayal of people who have mental illnesses in movies and on television, coupled with the sensationalization of news stories, tend to further the myths that such illnesses are untreatable and that their effects always end in disaster.
RESPECT is a movement begun by international consultant Joel Slack to help educate the public by telling his personal story of the powerful impact that respect (and disrespect) has on a person recovering from a mental illness. Slack developed the RESPECT Institute, which began in Missouri, to teach individuals who have mental illnesses to share their personal stories of recovery with public audiences, leading to a better public understanding of mental illness and related issues. RESPECT speakers offer insight into the ways general attitudes may affect the success or failure of the lives of people who face mental illnesses.
In Their Own Words
RESPECT speakers have personally experienced the cycle of illness, denial, acceptance, treatment, and triumph that leads to hope for their futures. These individuals are willing to share their stories to help others who may encounter similar obstacles.
RESPECT speakers are available to present to all types of groups – such as classrooms, civic organizations, church groups, hospital groups and auxiliaries, local law enforcement and emergency personnel, mental health advocacy organizations, and mental health professionals – in most areas of the state. To schedule a speaker, contact Michelle Gerstner, statewide RESPECT coordinator, at the Missouri Department of Mental Health, 800-364-9687 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
What RESPECT has done for me:
RESPECT taught me how to build my story in order to bring the negative into a positive light. It allowed me to gain self-esteem and self-respect as I realized the barriers I have overcome. RESPECT gave me a powerful means to be a voice for those who cannot speak.
Linda, RESPECT Speaker
Being a RESPECT speaker has given me the opportunity to share about my mental health challenges to help reduce stigma and educate various groups about mental health recovery. It feels good to know I am helping others understand mental health challenges.
Diana, RESPECT Speaker
The speakers…really opened my eyes to those who are living with a mental disorder. I knew people with mental disorders had to learn how to cope with their disorder; however, I never really thought of the work that goes into coping with it.
RESPECT Audience member
It was such a fascinating experience to hear the life stories…and how they both live with mental disorders. They were both proud and strong women, and I have a high regard for their bravery and courage.
RESPECT Audience member