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Johnson & Johnson: Champions of Science: The Art of Ending Stigma Project Launches to Combat Stigma About Mental Illnesses Through Education and Artistic Creation

Originally Published by Johnson & Johnson.

The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC are joining with Mental Health America, OneMind, PeaceLove and other leading mental health and arts organizations to leverage the power of artistic creation to break down stigma about mental illnesses and build greater empathy and understanding. Champions of Science: The Art of Ending Stigma, a new global project, encourages all people to share artistic expressions about mental illnesses and the importance of overcoming stigma, while also educating about the biological basis of these diseases.


People can submit their artwork to be featured in an online gallery at artofendingstigma.com. Additionally, people can share their creativity with others using the hashtag #ArtofEndingStigma.

The website also features educational resources about mental illnesses and combatting stigma, and suggestions about how to seek help or offer support to those who are experiencing mental health challenges.

Click to Tweet: Janssen and Johnson & Johnson Innovation announce new global project: Champions of Science: The #ArtofEndingStigma and invites you to participate by sharing an original artistic expression about #mentalillness and the importance of fighting stigma. http://po.st/Y55iZO

The project’s goals are underscored by a new national survey of U.S. adults aged 18+ conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Janssen and Johnson & Johnson Innovation. Nearly all survey participants (92 percent) believe there is stigma in our society against those with mental illnesses. Of them, 81 percent attribute stigma to lack of understanding, followed by about half (52 percent) who say it is because of how mental illnesses are portrayed in popular culture. Further, among those who know someone with a mental illness, 62 percent say that person is or has been afraid to seek treatment.

“Globally, one person out of four will be affected by a mental or neurological disorder at some point in his or her life, and, quite tragically, 90 percent of all who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.[i],[ii] Stigma and misinformation prevent many from getting appropriate treatment and support in developed and under-developed countries alike,” said Adam Savitz, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Director of Clinical Research, Neuroscience, Janssen Research & Development, L.L.C. “Fighting mental illnesses is as much about helping society overcome misperceptions as it is about empowering people to manage their diseases. Artistic expression can be a powerful tool for all involved. The Art of Ending Stigma project will help people cope and recover, and it will engage many more through greater understanding and empathy.”

Janssen is donating $5,000 to each nonprofit organization participating in the program to honor the work they do in the mental health and art communities.

“There is growing support for people living with mental illnesses, but misunderstanding still exists about what day-to-day life is like for those of us living with these disorders,” said Jeffrey Sparr, artist and co-founder of Peace Love, an organization that helps people find their voices through expressive arts and storytelling programs. “The power of art to communicate can be transformational and can help us break down the stigma. It can demonstrate to people how we overcome daily obstacles that they would otherwise never see, and it provides unique perspectives about how stigma is harmful to those with mental health challenges.”

Champions of Science: The Art of Ending Stigma will accept art submissions from the public in a variety of formats and styles from June 26 through October 31, 2018. Select artwork will be featured at an upcoming scientific symposium about advances in the neurobiology of mental illnesses at the New York Academy of Sciences on October 9, 2018. For inspiration and to participate in the project, go to www.artofendingstigma.com.

Additional Survey Results

Other findings from the survey highlight the nation’s divided mindset about people living with mental illnesses, revealing general support for providing individuals with greater help, but also misinformed views that can undermine that perspective.

  • Almost all survey respondents (99 percent) feel it’s important for people living with mental illnesses to get the help they need, and more than three-quarters (76 percent) don’t think enough is being done in our society to help those with mental illnesses.
  • At the same time, one in five survey respondents (19 percent) say they do not believe that all mental illnesses are serious medical conditions.
  • 86 percent believe psychological factors, such as character flaws and weakness, play a role in mental illnesses.
  • While more than two-thirds of survey respondents (68 percent) know someone with a mental illness, the majority (62 percent) say they don’t know how to help them.
  • Nearly half of survey respondents who know someone with a mental illness (48 percent) say they do not know how to speak to them about seeking treatment, and a third (34 percent) do not feel comfortable discussing mental health issues with family and friends.

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