When someone is experiencing mental illness or mental health challenges, their faith community, workplace, or school ought to be a place they know they can find support, caring and understanding.

Yet too often these communities are silent. Worse, they may unintentionally make people feel even more ashamed and isolated.

Shattering Stigma seeks to help faith communities and other organizations open dialogues and create safe spaces around mental health and mental illness, increasing community and connection for those in their midst who are struggling with these issues. We seek to create that conversation both online and through Shattering Stigma events.

In 2016, more than 500 people experienced¬†Shattering Stigma with Stories: Mental Health & Faith Communities,¬†a powerful one-day conference designed to provide a deeper understanding of life with mental illness, as well as increased confidence in attendees’ abilities to respond compassionately and effectively to those who live with mental illness and their families or friends.

Shattering Stigma was the vision of founder and professional speaker Tara Rolstad, who found support and love in her faith community while she was helping to raise nieces with severe mental illness, an exhausting and scary journey for which no one could be prepared. As she began to share her story, Tara found too many around her were isolated, overwhelmed and unsure how to connect with their own faith communities about their mental health challenges. Along with a team of other leaders and volunteers, the first Shattering Stigma conference was held in October of 2014 at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church for more than 300 attendees. Since then, Tara has facilitated 7 more conferences in the Portland area, and now she works with volunteers in other faith communities and organizations to help them create their own Shattering Stigma experience.

More info on Tara, including speaking, stand-up comedy (yep, she does that), or her book, “No, Really, We Want You to Laugh,” click here.


Shattering Stigma is a program of nonprofit Peer Wellness and Work Initiative, and is supported in part by a grant from Clackamas County Behavioral Health.

The original Shattering Stigma conference was hosted by Lake Grove Presbyterian Church, and we are grateful for their vision, foresight and ongoing support.