Some of the things McKnight does report about the program's findings are very encouraging to me and make me realize that perhaps I'm on the right track with my personal efforts to reduce stigma amongst Christians.
"...the pilot program found that by far the most effective way to change attitudes was to engage people in an emotional experience, and the best way to do that was to establish contact between people with mental illness and other members of the public."
"...it's important for members of the public not simply to have contact with psychiatric patients, but to see and hear from successful members of the community who have battled mental illness. ...most members of the public only see mentally ill people when something negative happens, and this is something anti-stigma campaigns must counter.
"Beyond that, the research suggests that campaigns are most effective when they're relatively small, manageable and sustainable, and when they're targeted to a specific audience. Different groups of people differ in their attitudes, after all, hence the best programs are ones designed to address specific attitudes."
This points out to me how important it is for Christians who have - or have had - mental illness to be open about it and educate their church families. Those who are doing well in life would especially be doing a great service if they would tell about the struggles they've had with mental illness.
But, given the stigma that exists, this takes courage. There is always the danger of alienating your Christian friends, especially those who harbour a deeply ingrained stigma or belief about mental illness. It takes a person who is passionate about making the world a better place for those who suffer with mental disorders. It takes compassionate people who want to see these people benefit from a loving and accepting Christian attitude. It takes someone who cares enough to make it possible for suffering people to be encouraged - not discouraged - in their faith.
Are you one of these people? Are you a respected member of your church community who has in the past lived with mental illness? Do you want to take part in making the world a better place?
Tell your story to your church family. Once you've made the topic an ok one, you'd be surprised how many people will come out of the woodwork.