Mental health affects everyone, yet statistics show that stigma continues to be the biggest barrier to individuals seeking care. In 2016, shortly after launching Deconstructing Stigma at Boston Logan Airport, McLean received an impassioned phone call from a mental health advocate in Vermont asking us to consider bringing the campaign to the Green Mountain State.
Deconstructing Stigma in Burlington
The Burlington International Airport has welcomed McLean to exhibit the hospital’s award-winning public awareness campaign, Deconstructing Stigma. The exhibit, which has been developed specifically the airport, features men and women from Vermont who have experienced mental health challenges themselves and in their families. But beyond their willingness to share their stories to encourage others to seek care and to know they are not alone, the volunteers in this campaign are wildlife advocates, musicians, fitness instructors, actors, athletes, and artists. They are sisters and wives, brothers and fathers. What do they have in common? All have been affected by mental illness and the stigma that surrounds it and have been brought together as part of Deconstructing Stigma.
The Burlington Deconstructing Stigma exhibit is scheduled to be completed in early 2020 and will be seen by more than 1 million travelers annually.
Facts About Mental Health in Vermont
- In 2016, suicide was the 8th-leading cause of death for all Vermonters
- Over the past two decades, trends in death by suicide have increased in Vermont and the United States
- In recent years, more than 100 Vermonters have died by suicide each year
- The percentage of Vermont adults with any mental health condition is generally higher than corresponding rates in the US and Northeast
- More Vermont adults are getting treatment than the national average (58% vs 43% in 2015); other data sources—such as data reported to SAMHSA’s Uniform Reporting System (URS)—show that Vermont’s use of community mental health services is much higher than the national average (39 per 1,000 people vs. 23 per 1,000 people in 2015)
- In Vermont, about 6,000 adolescents aged 12-17 (12.7% of all adolescents) per year in 2013-2014 reported using illicit drugs within the month prior to being surveyed
- In Vermont, about 7 in 10 (68.8%) adolescents aged 12-17 in 2013-2014 perceived no great risk from having five or more drinks once or twice a week—higher than the national percentage
- In Vermont, about 23,000 adults aged 18 or older (4.7% of all adults) per year in 2013-2014 had serious thoughts of suicide within the year prior to being surveyed
- In Vermont, about 57,000 adults aged 18 or older with mental illness (57.7% of all adults with mental illness) per year from 2010 to 2014 received mental health treatment/counseling within the year prior to being surveyed