- Walt's Waltz, South Carolina
- February 28, 2021
Who We Are: Walt’s Waltz is an Upstate South Carolina-based nonprofit with regional and national reach. We strive to end the shame that surrounds mental health conditions through the creation of Stigma Free Zones. The certification of organizations as Stigma-Free Zones empowers those educational institutions, businesses, municipalities, and nonprofits to provide an empathetic culture of support for those with a mental health condition.
Our Mission: Walt’s Waltz is a Compass and a Megaphone for Mental Health Support, Education, and Change.
Our Vision: That Physical Health and Mental Health be viewed through the same lens of compassion and fair-mindedness which contributes to the empowerment and care of all of humanity.
Walt’s Waltz works with experts to educate and engage communities and organizations about the mental health conditions of anxiety and depression through the following:
- Safe Spaces - Establishing safe spaces for open communication everywhere.
- Stages of Severity - Encouraging the use of mental health screenings as a tool to better define and understand the various levels anxiety and depression for oneself and others.
- Stigma Free - Striving to end the negative stigma, including self-stigma, that surrounds mental health conditions through education, empathy, compassion, and understanding.
- Let’s stop dancing around mental health conversations.
- Take your mental health temperature.
- Step out of stigma 1, 2, 3.
Walt’s Waltz Stigma-Free Zone Initiative
Walt’s Waltz Stigma-Free Zones involve the designation of Safe Spaces where people feel supported and empowered.
We Stand with Those Impacted by Mental Health Conditions.
Establishing Stigma-Free Zones raises awareness of local mental health resources and provides a safe space for open communication. Stigma-Free Zones encourage people to break down the social barriers of stigma and become more mindful of their own mental health as well as that of others. Mental health conditions have the potential to worsen if left untreated and complications arise when individuals do not seek help. It is essential that people engage in care as soon as the need is identified so recovery can begin, hope is inspired, and tragedies are avoided.
We pledge to increase awareness and understanding of mental health conditions, and promise to work to eliminate stigma and discrimination within our agency and larger community.
We promote a message of hope and the belief that healing and recovery are attainable. Stigma-Free Zones aim to inspire public interest and open dialogues about stigma.
What is Stigma?
Stigma is a mark of disgrace which results from the judgment of others. When an individual is labelled by their condition, they experience judgment and prejudice. Stigma brings experiences and feelings of shame, embarrassment, distress, hopelessness. People become reluctant to seek or accept help. Stigma can contribute to an individual not seeking help when they experience symptoms of a mental health condition.
- Believe that mental health conditions require the same medical care and support as physical conditions
- Create stronger and happier communities and workspaces
- Raise awareness of the prevalence of mental health conditions in our community
- Increase public interest in learning what is “Stigma-Free”
- Allow individuals living with a mental health condition to feel supported
- Connect individuals in need to local mental health resources
Steps to Become a Walt’s Waltz Stigma-Free Zone:
Walt’s Waltz Stigma-Free Zone certification involves education and engagement surrounding the topic of mental health. Leadership will select at least two Walt’s Waltz Ambassadors to participate in the Mental Health First Aid for Adults (MHFA) course. This training is provided by certified professionals and equips the Ambassadors with the tools to better improve awareness regarding mental health conditions, wellness strategies, as well as local resources. MHFA Training can be offered to any and all faculty and staff. In addition, we can provide a one hour suicide prevention training. The organization will pledge to host ambassador led monthly safe-space discussions. Walt’s Waltz will provide resources for discussions and wellness activities. The organization will pledge to engage in at least one mental health focused event each year in partnership with Walt’s Waltz. A certified list of local mental health resources provided by Walt’s Waltz will be visibly posted. Walt’s Waltz Stigma-Free Pledge Promote signing of Walt’s Waltz Stigma-Free Pledge through a link on the school’s website. Post Stigma-Free Pledge at organization and arrange for a signing promotion day.
Walt’s Waltz Stigma-Free Pledge
I choose to:
- Educate myself and others about the various stigmas in society and learn how negative perceptions affect those around me
- Challenge my own assumptions and possible biases
- Be mindful of language I use that might promote stigma
- Actively participate in conversations surrounding mental health conditions, knowing this could lead to earlier, lifesaving interventions
- Consider the implications of remaining silent and be bold in checking the emotional
and mental wellbeing of those around me
- View Mental Health and Physical Health through the same lens of compassion
- Be an active advocate of Mental Health First Aid training
- Inspire public interest and open dialogues that advance the Stigma-Free Zone mission
Resources: cdc.gov, nih.gov, who.int, ceoroundtable.heart.org, mentalhealthfirstaid.org