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talkinghandsToday concludes Mental Illness Awareness Week. At Jewish Family & Children’s Service, we want to carry this critical awareness beyond one week. JFCS fosters a safe, welcoming environment free of judgments not just for our counseling patients but for all those who interact with our agency including staff, volunteers and community members.

In the spirit of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) campaign, Pledge to be StigmaFree, JFCS challenges our supporters to become stigma free with us by following the steps:

1. Educate Yourself and Others
Through simple education you will develop a deeper understanding of what causes mental illness and what does not, helping you take the first step in rejecting stereotypes. Mental illness is often dramatized in the media yet in reality conditions can present through subtle symptoms and changes. Understanding mental illness can help you recognize the symptoms, identify a name for challenges that may be facing you, a loved one, a co-worker, or a stranger, and seek critical treatment.

2. See the Person and Not the Illness
It can be all too easy to see a number instead of a person behind statistics on mental illness. One in five Americans lives with a mental illness and each and every ONE is an individual with a personal story.

3. Take Action on Mental Health Issues
Join forces with the agencies across the country pushing for better legislation and policies to support those facing mental illness. The more we learn as a population about mental health, the more we all benefit.

JFCS challenges you to take the #stigmafree pledge with us and continue spreading the important messaging on Mental Illness Awareness.

Learn more about the StigmaFree Pledge and access information regarding mental illness conditions at: http://www.nami.org.