Counseling Today, Online Exclusives

Taking steps toward dignity

By Bethany Bray August 24, 2015


What do we want? Dignity!

When do we want it? Now!

This chant echoed across the National Mall on Monday, Aug. 24, as a large group of people stepped off for the inaugural Destination Dignity march.

The event, organized by a coalition of mental health organizations, agencies and nonprofits, was planned to rally against the stigma and discrimination people with mental illness face, from trouble finding housing to increased rates of incarceration and homelessness.

Marchers, many wearing green T-shirts and ribbons and carrying signs, processed along the National Mall in Washington, D.C., finishing in front of the U.S. Capitol. Participants were from the local area, as well as Maryland, New York, New Jersey and other states.

The American Counseling Association was one of the event’s supporting partners; several ACA staffers and local members participated. ACA donated water bottles for the event that featured the ACA logo and the phrase “Step by step, day by day, stand up for mental health!”

Eduardo Vega, director of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco and one of the main organizers of the Destination Dignity march, was among the many people who said they hope the march will become an annual event.

Although Monday’s march was less than a mile, advocates still have many miles left to go before successfully destigmatizing mental illness, said Vega.



Destination Dignity marchers process along the National Mall towards the U.S. Capitol. (All photos by Bethany Bray/Counseling Today)





Destination Dignity: March for Dignity and Change in Mental Health

Aug. 24, Washington, D.C.


We call for:

  • An end to a society in which people with mental health conditions die up to 25 years younger than the rest of the population
  • An end to unconscionable levels of unemployment, incarceration, homelessness and suicide
  • An end to negative portrayals and scapegoating in the news and media
  • An end to underfunding of services, harsh practices and fragmented “fail-first” systems that require a person to be in crisis in order to access help
  • An end to the criminalization of mental illness and substance use conditions





For more information, see


Search for the hashtag #MHDignityMarch on social media for photos and posts from the day’s events





Eduardo Vega, director of the Mental Health Association of San Francisco, rallies the crowd. The back of Vega’s t-shirt reads “People recover. Stigma hurts. You can make a difference. Demand dignity now.”


A march participant is interviewed by the local media (Telesur).



Bethany Bray is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at


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