Alabama Department of Public Health and Alabama Department of Mental Health partner to break the cycle of stigma


CONTACT: Public Information, Alabama Department of Mental Health
(334) 242-3417
[email protected]

CONTACT: Jamey Durham, Alabama Department of Public Health
(334) 206-5634

The Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Department of Mental Health launch a statewide campaign, Stop Judging. Start Healing., aimed at assisting friends, family, physicians, mental health care clinicians, substance abuse prevention and treatment providers and all people in Alabama to change the way we speak about individuals with mental health illness, substance and opioid use disorders, HIV and Hepatitis C.

The language we use can be hurtful and harming to the people we care about. Using words that help and support others is important. Decreasing stigma surrounding mental health illnesses, substance and opioid use disorders and HIV and Hepatitis C is vital to ensuring accurate information is shared with those we love and care for.

“People with these conditions often fear that others are blaming or judging them,” State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said. “These conditions are manageable, and so it is important for everyone to understand that irrational fear creates barriers to people seeking and receiving care. Compassion helps break these barriers. Everyone deserves dignity, compassion and support.”

The campaign encourages the public to have open conversations to break the cycle of stigma by sharing kindness and understanding. Changing the way, we talk changes people, and the words providers and families use are powerful.

“The stigma that surrounds mental illness and substance use disorder is the number one barrier to treatment and recovery. We must learn how to speak in positive terms, support our friends and family, and offer appropriate resources to people who need our help,” said Commissioner Lynn Beshear, Alabama Department of Mental Health.

“Partnering with the Alabama Department of Public Health is the right, next step in the movement to educate practitioners, providers and the people of Alabama, in decreasing the stigma surrounding diseases that affect the mind and body. Support for total health is necessary for the well-being of an individual,” Commissioner Beshear continued.

The statewide campaign consists of television, social media and radio advertisements, with a targeted delivery of information to medical professionals to increase awareness of the importance of the use of people first language.

Watch the videos and share on social media using #stopjudgingstarthealing. See how you can help change the conversation at

County health departments throughout Alabama provide a wide range of confidential and professional services. Contact your local county health department for additional information.

Mission: To promote, protect, and improve Alabama’s health

Vision: Healthy People. Healthy Communities. Healthy Alabama.