Dear family and friends have made great strides educating people like myself about the cancer of stigma and ways to shrink it.

I am exhausted and tempted with defeatism by the vast forces manifested by our stigmatizing tendencies.

This wiki platform is a place to assemble countervailing energies and understandings to shrink the power of stigma.

A wiki entry says that “Stigma is a Greek word that in its origins referred to a type of marking or tattoo that was cut or burned into the skin of criminals, slaves, or traitors in order to visibly identify them as blemished or morally polluted persons. These individuals were to be avoided or shunned, particularly in public places.”

A marking to identify people considered blemished or “morally polluted,” to “be avoided or shunned…tainted…devalued…subjected to status loss and discrimination…by 10 years of age, most children are aware of cultural stereotypes of different groups in society, and children who are members of stigmatized groups are aware of cultural types at an even younger age.”[7]

Sharing Stories About Shrinking the Cancer of Stigma

Stigma shrinking is as important as
Carbon footprint shrinking.

It’s a neceasary condition
For addressing the major challenges of our times.

Shrinking The Cancer of Stigma

Stigma shrinking is as important as
Carbon footprint shrinking.

It’s a necessary condition
For addressing the major challenges of our times.

Patricia Obletz Mental Health Activist: An Interview

Milwaukee Renaissance. You startled and awakened Milwaukee with an evocative image on the back of many Milwaukee buses of a person of unusual appearance getting punched in the face that had an equally unusual text alongside. Can you share that image, the story behind the image, and the impact of that image?

Patricia Obletz. That image is the oil painting “Out of Nowhere,” the first work to show up six months after Michael, my younger brother by four years died of sudden death syndrome on August 27, 2005. I’d moved to Milwaukee the summer before from Buffalo, New York, to visit family without need for a plane.

The following year, an x-ray revealed spots in my right lung, which by fall, had grown. Before surgery December 6, urgent need to raise mental health awareness in my new city inspired me to select that painting done after Michael died for a bus tail sign to accompany my message: “Put Your Money Where Your Mind Is. Mental illnesses run in every family. Ask your doctor for a mental health checkup.” The second batch of tail signs’ last lines read “Educate yourself. Call 800–273–8255.”

Partnered with Clear Channel Outdoors, and the following year with Titan Worldwide for three months in Chicago, the campaign hit the road in early 2007. Clear Channel Outdoors kept the signs in sight months on end in the Milwaukee area between 2007 and 2009. The media picked up my anti-stigma campaign, which expanded its reach. The impact became clear to me every time “Out of Nowhere” was in an art show and viewers said it was familiar, sometimes remembering the campaign. It facilitated open and honest conversation about personal experiences with mental health.

I’ve been working to help normalize serious and persistent mental illnesses in print, on TV/radio/web as well as in art galleries and marches since 1991.

Last edited by James Godsil. Based on work by Godsil.  Page last modified on April 14, 2015

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