Student holds sign that says, "I love Mental Health! #StigmaFreeCarolina"

Stigma Free Carolina photography campaign

Stigma Free Carolina, a student-led initiative focused on reducing mental health stigma at UNC-Chapel Hill, will sponsor a panel discussion on Oct. 5.

The public is invited to attend the 5:30 p.m. event at the School of Social Work auditorium. Refreshments will be served. Speakers will include:

  • Tara Bohley, clinical assistant professor, School of Social Work, UNC-Chapel Hill.
  • Rwenshaun Miller, mental health advocate and founder and executive director of Eustress Inc.
  • Mitch Prinstein, John Van Seters distinguished professor of psychology and neuroscience, UNC-Chapel Hill.

Sue Estroff, professor of social medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill, will serve as moderator.

The panel event will focus on the negative influence of stigma on individuals with mental illness and how members of the surrounding community can help alleviate stigma, said Nikhil Tomar, a co-founder of Stigma Free Carolina and doctoral candidate in occupational science.

“Growing research evidence indicates that stigma can be more detrimental for an individual with mental illness than the symptoms of the illness itself,” he added.

Todd Jensen, a co-founder of Stigma Free Carolina and doctoral candidate in social work, said of the panel, “Our goal for the panel event is to bring together as many members of the UNC community as possible, and strategize how to build and sustain a supportive environment in which students feel empowered to access the mental health resources available to them.”

Stigma Free Carolina is now in its third year. In addition to the panel discussion, the organization had its kickoff event at Top of Lenoir earlier in September and manages a photography campaign in which students, faculty, staff and alumni may submit photos of themselves holding supportive messages related to mental health.