The Art of Ending Stigma Project Launches to Combat Stigma About Mental Illnesses Through Education and Artistic Creation

TITUSVILLE, N.J. – 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.

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.”