Removing behavioral health stigma, one story at a time

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

One of the most effective ways to counteract stigma about substance use disorder and mental illness is through stories of those who have lived experience with these issues.

Two members of HCA’s Behavioral Health Advisory Council (BHAC) recently shared their stories of hope as part of the council’s efforts to remove stigma.



Richelle Madigan, a mother from Moses Lake, shared her story about raising a child with mental health issues. Parents of children with behavior disorders often face stigma from strangers, friends, and even family members. Fear of being judged or blamed for their child’s mental illness prevents families from seeking the help they need. After years of advocating on behalf of her family, Richelle received help and her child now lives successfully in a group home.



Susan Kydd started drinking at age 13, and eventually began misusing opioids. When Susan started treatment, she noticed that many of the participants were angry at themselves for needing help. Susan is now celebrating more than 20 years in recovery, and helps share the message that substance use disorder is a treatable disease, not a weakness.

The Behavioral Health Advisory Council (BHAC) includes community members, government stakeholders, and public partners. At least half of the council members have lived experience with substance use disorder and/or mental health issues. BHAC advises and educates HCA on planning and implementing effective, integrated behavioral health services, and promotes individual choice, prevention, and recovery.