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February 25, 2019

Become an official Stigma-Free Zone: It's FREE!

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Let the world know your organization is a safe, welcoming and positive space for people affected by mental illness, substance use disorders or disabilities!

We have everything you need to designate your business, school, faith organization, municipality, nonprofit, service or group as a #LookBeyond Stigma-Free Zone.

All it takes is a commitment to live out the #LookBeyond Pledge:

  • Listen to people who live with mental health, substance use and/or developmental challenges, to gain understanding.

  • Educate yourself about these challenges by using community resources (like taking Mental Health First Aid Training).

  • Treat every person as a valuable member of our community.

  • Speak Up for fair and respectful treatment of all people.

  • Get Others Involved with the #Look Beyond campaign.

  • Optimize your own wellness

(Yes, that spells out “Let’s Go.” Makes it easy to remember your promise!)

Here’s the process:

1) LEARN ABOUT BEING STIGMA-FREE

We’d be thrilled to offer a short on-site presentation to your group to explain what the #LookBeyond campaign is all about. We can do it in 15 minutes!

If a presentation isn’t possible, use this website, LookBeyondStigma.org, to view our video, browse the information about reducing stigma and take the pledge. Pledging is easy: All we ask for is your commitment, your first name and your email address.

We especially recommend the Stories section, for real-life testimonials about the impact of stigma on people from all walks of life. Feel free to submit your own stories, too!

2) TAKE THE PLEDGE

Ideally, everyone in your organization will take the online pledge to #BeStigmaFree: Employees, members, students, staff, etc. At the very least, we ask that all members of your leadership team take it first. That could mean your CEO, cabinet, pastor, board, administration, owner, management team, etc.

Then we ask you to promote the pledge and encourage everybody involved with your organization to take it! (See below for a sample letter to send to your staff/membership about becoming a Stigma-Free Zone.)

3) ENJOY RECOGNITION AND PROMOTE YOUR ZONE!

Once your organization has pledged, we’ll provide you with a Stigma-Free Zone plaque, window-cling decal, yard signs, magnets, bookmarks, pens, t-shirts and moreFREE – so you can proudly display your commitment to welcoming and respecting all individuals.

PLUS: We’ll arrange an on-site photo of your group, including a “We Pledged!” banner and one or both of our owl mascots, Opal and Oswald. Then we’ll issue a news release to local media announcing your designation as a Stigma-Free Zone!

4) TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID TRAINING

We’re proud to offer comprehensive, evidence-based training to anyone in the community who wants to learn how to provide assistance to someone experiencing a mental health crisis. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an eight-hour course that introduces risk factors and common warning signs exhibited by someone who may be experiencing mental health problems.

Participants receive certification and a handbook upon completion. We can offer training at your site or you can attend one of our community trainings. Classes include Adult MHFA (for anyone 18 and older who wants to learn how to help someone experiencing a mental health challenge) and Youth MHFA (designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents, age 12-18).

We also offer courses designed for people who work in higher education or who work with military service members/veterans. Visit our MHFA page for more information, a schedule of current classes and to request training.

5) KEEP UP WITH THE CAMPAIGN AND LIVE OUT YOUR PLEDGE

We’ll send you a quarterly email newsletter featuring tips and reminders for staying Stigma-Free, campaign updates and events. And we welcome YOUR suggestions and stories about what it means to #BeStigmaFree as an organization.

6) SPREAD THE WORD

Encourage other organizations you interact with to become Stigma-Free Zones, too! Suppliers, community partners, customers – everyone is welcome to join the movement!

We’re eager to hear from your organization when you’re ready to become a Stigma-Free Zone! Questions? Contact us at hello@lookbeyondstigma.org.


SAMPLE LETTER TO YOUR ORGANIZATION’S STAFF/MEMBERS:

Dear XYZ Family:

#LookBeyond is a Kalamazoo-area campaign to reduce stigma and encourage positive attitudes toward people living with mental illness, substance use disorders and/or developmental disabilities.

At XYZ, we share #LookBeyond’s goal to improve the lives of people living with these challenges in Kalamazoo County, and the lives of their families and caregivers, by changing perceptions and promoting wellness for all.

That’s why we’re excited to partner with #LookBeyond to create a Stigma-Free Zone at XYZ. In the next week, please take a few moments to visit LookBeyondStigma.org, browse the site, view the campaign video and then take the online pledge to #BeStigmaFree.

We believe XYZ will become a more welcoming and supportive organization by joining this community movement to #LookBeyond stereotypes and #BEstigmaFREE. Watch for more info soon!

Sincerely,

XYZ