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Why We Must Continue to Talk About Stigma

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The MANIAC License Plate Bill is Back

Email Legislators: Representative Paul Shephard and Speaker of the House Scott Bedke

Background Information:

Representative Paul Shepherd introduced a bill to create the "Friends of the Orofino Maniacs" license plate in the House Transportation Committee. The proposed legislation received a print hearing and is now HB413.  Advocates are asked to consider expressing opposition to the passage of House Bill 413 which seeks to amend Idaho Code Section 49-402 by adding a new section authorizing special vehicle license plates for the Idaho Friends of the Orofino Maniacs. That’s right, it will put the word MANIAC into Idaho Code and on a license plate depicting the Orofino maniac mascot, officially sanctioned and issued by the State of Idaho.  Orofino is home to State Hospital North, a state-sponsored and supported institution for the care and treatment of individuals who have a serious mental illness, and a high school using the name ‘Maniacs’ and image of a wild-haired, shouting, out-of-control cartoon character as its mascot. Proceeds from the sale of these special license plates would be applied to furthering academic enrichment in this school district.

The State of Idaho entrusts Hospital North and their staff to care for some of Idaho’s most vulnerable citizens in their time of crisis and helps them achieve recovery.

Why this matters!  The issue is that the word maniac and the logo of the mascot adds to a false stereo-type of people with mental illness and adds to the stigma they face.

If you google the word maniac you will find the most common definition to be:

  • a raving or violently insane person; lunatic.
  • someone who is violent and mentally ill
  • a person who is crazy, insane, or generally dangerous
  • psychotic or otherwise mentally ill person who exhibits violent or bizarre behavior.

Mania is a recognized mood disorder characterized by abnormally elevated and aroused energy levels, effusiveness and/or irritability.  By allowing the Orofino Maniacs name and their mascot logo to be placed on Idaho’s license plates, it will signal that Idaho officially sanctions the use of a word and image that is hurtful, insulting, discriminatory and stigmatizing to every Idahoan living with a mental illness diagnosis and their family.

This is more than political correctness and trying to ban a word we find offensive. Stigma is one of the major barriers for people to seek help and treatment whether for mental illness or to prevent suicide!

We should all be about reducing stigma and building hope. Stigma is one of the most challenging aspects of living with a mental health condition. It causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control and prevents many from seeking the help they need and speaking out. 

One can empathize with people who sometimes feel that there’s too much “political correctness” today. But what does the phrase actually mean? Shouldn't we always try to do the right thing? Shouldn’t there be civic dialogue about language and attitudes?


Action is needed now!

Send emails or make calls to the House Transportation Committee and your own legislators to let them know how you feel about this bill.

Email Legislators: Representative Paul Shephard ( and Speaker of the House Scott Bedke (

Mental Health facts:

  • Each year 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 children experiences a mental health disorder
  • 1 out of every 17 people lives with a serious mental illness
  • That means approximately 54,000 adults and 18,000 children in Idaho live with mental illness
  • Half of all mental illness emerges by age of 14 and three quarters by age 24.
  • While nearly 1 in 5 American youth live with a mental health condition, less than half receive any services.