Sun07272014

Schools

LAHS screening tackles stigma of mental health problems

erasestigmaThe LETS (Let’s Erase The Stigma) Club at Los Altos High School is scheduled to co-host a screening of “No Kidding? Me 2!” 7 p.m. today at the school’s Eagle Theater, 201 Almond Ave.

Presented in partnership with Family and Children Services (FCS) of Silicon Valley, the screening aims to address the growing problem of mental illness.

The documentary, rated PG-13, stars the Emmy Award-winning actor Joe Pantoliano of “The Sopranos,” “The Matrix” and “The Goonies” fame. Pantoliano, a best-selling author and mental health advocate, is committed to eliminating the stigma and shame that surround those who struggle with mental health problems.

Students will have the opportunity to meet Pantoliano and hear about his struggles with depression and overcoming the bias in the health-care system.

The evening will include a post-film question-and-answer discussion with FCS clinical directors.

“It requires less effort to judge others than to educate ourselves on the matter,” FCS CEO Diana Neiman said. “As a result, we often marginalize those people who most need our acceptance. This documentary screening gathers the broader community for an unashamed conversation, one with great potential to increase understanding and acceptance.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans 18 and older (approximately one in four adults) suffer from a diagnosable brain-related disorder in a given year. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that only 13.4 percent of adults in the U.S. received treatment for their addictions. The prevalence of mental illnesses in adolescents as they age has been on an upward trend. Statistics report that 41.7 percent of 13- to 14-year-olds, 45.9 percent of 15- to 16-year-olds and 54.4 percent of 17- to 18-year-olds nationwide suffer from a mental-health disorder.

“People with mental illnesses are one of the most stigmatized groups in our entire society,” said Judy Prothro, LETS Club adviser and guidance counselor. “When people are stigmatized … ‘self-stigma’ too often prevents them from seeking help. … Stigma is a real issue affecting kids.”

Admission is free, but donations will be accepted. Proceeds will enable LETS Club members to attend the FCS Circle of Support Breakfast May 8 at the Crowne Plaza Cabaña Hotel in Palo Alto.

For more information on the LETS Club, call 960-8816 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For more information on FCS, call 543-5412, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit fcservices.org.

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