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MHSA Project Launch

Sacramento County Launches Mental Health Stigma and Discrimination Reduction Initiative

Health and Human Services
Ann Edwards

1/12/2012 10:00 PM

Media Contact:

Laura McCasland    (916) 875-2008


Multi-media Project to Kick-off at “Changing Attitudes, Changing Lives, Promoting Health and Wellness” Celebration

SACRAMENTO, CA - The Sacramento County Division of Behavioral Health Services (DBHS) is hosting a health and wellness celebration to launch Sacramento County’s Mental Health Promotion and Stigma and Discrimination Reduction Program.

The “Changing Attitudes, Changing Lives, Promoting Health and Wellness” Celebration will feature information booths and complimentary health screenings in an effort to raise awareness about Sacramento County community health and mental health resources and spread hope about mental health issues and programs available. The celebration will be held on January 21 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Sam Pannell Community Center at 2450 Meadowview Road.

“Mental health stigma and discrimination against persons with mental illness is widespread and reaches all segments of society,” said Ann Edwards, Director of Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services. “With this program we have a tremendous opportunity to fundamentally alter negative attitudes about mental illness, eliminate the barriers to achieving full inclusion in society and increase access to support services.”

Mental illness does not discriminate and affects every racial, economic and religious group and impacts people of all ages. In Sacramento County, roughly 355,000 residents have a mental illness but research shows that only one-third of those individuals will seek professional help, primarily due to the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.

As part of its Mental Health Services Act initiative, DBHS is launching a countywide multimedia, mental health promotion project that will focus on specific cultural and ethnic groups and age-specific populations, especially youth and older adults.  The project will work to change the negative perceptions of mental illness in Sacramento County and promote community resources and supports available throughout the County to foster hope and recovery.

The initiative will feature an informational website:, television and radio public service announcements, outdoor advertising and promotional materials that will all be offered in multiple languages and distributed to multiple outlets throughout Sacramento County.

“By changing attitudes and beliefs toward persons living with mental illnesses, the Mental Health Promotion project will work to dispel harmful myths and stereotypes as it encourages hope, resiliency and recovery,” said Mary Ann Bennett, Deputy Director of Behavioral Health Services. “If successful, not only will we have helped prevent future discrimination against  those with mental health issues, but we will have also created an environment where families aren’t afraid to discuss mental illness, and more than one third of individuals will make the phone call or walk through the clinic door to explore treatment.”

For more information on Sacramento County’s mental health efforts, please visit Residents should feel free to call 211 Sacramento (211 or 916-498-1000), a free and confidential information and referral service for the community. An InfoLine referral specialist will take the call and help choose from over 2,400 nonprofit and public programs to recommend the ones that can best help the individual. Calls are always confidential.