Updated August 17, 2023
When FHE Health first began the “No More Shame” campaign, we had no idea what would come of it. The year was 2020, and the world was reeling from a pandemic that had caused rates of mental health and substance use disorders to surge.
We had no idea how our audience would respond or whether the message would have an impact. What we did know was that we wanted to be part of the solution to America’s addiction and mental health epidemic, and that this would require addressing shame and stigma. We also wanted to help end the stigmas that prevent too many people in this country from seeking treatment and experiencing healing and recovery.
To do that, we started a “NoMoreShame” wristband challenge. Its goal was to encourage those affected by addiction and mental illness to publicly share their feelings, experiences, and stories. We weren’t asking for tell-all memoirs with all the gruesome details—just whatever people felt comfortable sharing. Those who participated got a NoMoreShame wristband in the mail and joined a nascent but growing movement.
Personal Stories About Overcoming Addiction and Mental Illness
Pretty soon, your responses and requests for wristbands started trickling in. Some of you posted comments on social media. Others shared their stories of recovery, which we published with their permission. For inspiration and insight, we’ve compiled some of these stories, including:
- the moment recorded on video that convinced Ryan to enter treatment
- what helped April overcome opiate addiction
- the keys to Teddy’s comeback from trauma
- the turning point in Tal’s struggles with drugs and alcohol
- how Olivia found life after a near-fatal overdose
Stories like these are helping to reduce the stigma that prevents people from seeking treatment.
Stats on the NoMoreShame Campaign
Now that the NoMoreShame campaign has been running for some time, we wanted to update you on its progress. These stats help to shed light on the scope and level of involvement we’re seeing, as well as the demographic of participants:
- In response to your requests, we’ve sent out over 540 packages of wristbands, many of them in bulk for whole groups or organizations.
- “No More Shame” is now a national movement, as evidenced by the fact that we’ve shipped wristbands to 48 states.
- About half of participants are people mentioning substance abuse and about half are those commenting on mental health.
- About 40 percent of requests for bracelets have a personal note to share.
- Multiple treatment centers and therapists have reached out requesting wristbands.
The Impact on Reducing Stigma?
What has been the impact of the NoMoreShame campaign on reducing stigma? This would be hard to truly quantify, but what we do know is that we continue to receive your requests for wristbands. Many of you write to say you need a new one. That suggests that the NoMoreShame message isn’t just getting out—it’s making an impression that sticks.
NoMoreShame is also a continuing conversation, which is about as good an outcome as we could’ve hoped for. It means you care about ending mental health and addiction stigmas, and because you care, others will also. It means you’re sharing your stories and experiences, and in doing so, have given others permission to do the same:
- Kyle wrote: “Today marks seven years that I’ve chosen to live a quality of life that I could’ve never dreamed possible.”
- Erin, who shared how treatment helped her address major depression and PTSD from sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, wrote:“I share my story, so others know they aren’t alone. Help is out there. Getting help is scary and you will never be more vulnerable, but the other option is no option at all. I have chosen to live my life with gratitude, to help others, and to own my story.”
We have a long way to go in our No More Shame campaign, especially when it comes to ending stigmas that disproportionately affect some communities, but we’ve made some quantifiable progress. It is a track record worth continuing.
Got a story to contribute to the NoMoreShame campaign? Reach out to us by leaving a comment and requesting a wristband here. Together, we can end the shame and the stigma.