Investing in Ability events explore stigma, stereotypes and bullying


The University of Michigan Council for Disability Concerns’ Investing in Ability series this month will explore the impact of stigma, stereotypes and bullying for persons with disabilities.

Eric Hipple

The council also has announced the 2015 James T. Neubacher Award winner: Eric Hipple, former Detroit Lions quarterback and current U-M Depression Center outreach representative.

Regent Kathy White will present the award to Hipple at 10 a.m. Oct. 30 in Rackham Assembly Hall.

“Eric Hipple is a man with a mission. He is devoting his life to addressing the stigma of mental illness by personifying the fact that even a powerful athlete can be affected by it, falling prey to this disability and then fighting back and conquering it,” says Anna Ercoli Schnitzer, outreach and disability informationist at the Taubman Health Sciences Library. She chairs the Neubacher Award Committee and also coordinates the Investing in Ability Committee and its parent organization, the Council for Disability Concerns.

The 2015 Investing in Ability theme “Stigma, Stereotypes and Bullying” was selected by the committee because members felt there is much stigma attached in particular to people who have disabilities.

“We broadened it to other types of stigma and stereotyping. Bullying fits in because if you are stigmatized or stereotyped you also are often bullied,” Schnitzer says.

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The range of Investing in Ability events presented in October and November will explore varying aspects of stigma, stereotyping and bullying, and how those aspects are viewed by different U-M units and departments. The events also include popular favorites such as the opportunity to interact with service, assistance and therapy dogs.

Events include:

• Dr. Farha Abbasi, Michigan State University faculty, “Stigma about Mental Health in the Muslim Community,” noon Oct. 5, Hatcher Graduate Library.

• Loraleigh Keashly, Wayne State University faculty, “Bullying in the Workplace,” 12:30 p.m. Oct. 9, U-M Health System, CVC Danto Auditorium.

• Anne Curzan, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of English language and literature, linguistics, and education; and Robin Queen, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of Germanic languages and literatures, linguistics, and English language and literature, “The Impact of Language on Stigma and Stereotyping,” noon Oct. 14, Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery. (Teleconference with UM-Dearborn)

• Honorable Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein, “Personal Narrative,” noon Oct. 22, Alumni Memorial Hall. (Teleconference with UM-Dearborn.)

• Army-Navy Wheelchair Basketball Game, Crisler Center, 3 p.m. Nov. 1, with U-M Dance Team and Cheer Team, Men’s Glee Club, U-M Tri-Service Color Guard and 338th Army Band. Doors open at 2 p.m. No tickets needed.

After his 15-year-old son’s suicide in 2000, Hipple became dedicated to his memory by educating others, especially young people, about the dangers of depression and addiction.

Hipple travels the country giving inspirational, informative speeches to high schools, youth groups, members of the U.S. military and corporation employees on suicide prevention and mental illness.

His book “Real Men Do Cry,” published in 2009, discusses his football career followed by his bouts with drinking and depression. It also details warning signs of teens that are depressed and may be considering suicide.

“When Eric speaks to a group, he really attracts a diverse audience, including big, burly men in work clothes who know of him through his football days. I thought he was an extremely inspirational speaker,” says Schnitzer, who nominated Hipple for the Neubacher Award.

The Council for Disability Concerns established the James T. Neubacher Award in 1990 as a memorial to U-M alumnus Jim Neubacher, who was a columnist for the Detroit Free Press and an advocate for equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities.

Investing in Ability events are free, held in accessible places, and everyone is welcome.

The free events are presented by the Council for Disability Concerns in collaboration with University Human Resources, the U-M Health System, and University Health Service.



  1. Harold Maio
    on October 2, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    —-He is devoting his life to addressing the stigma of mental illness

    He asserts a “stigma”? You uncritically repeat him? Direct it yourself?

    I thought we had passed the point of directing ”stigmas” after the Women’s Movement told us to end the word association rape/stigma.

    Welcome to the bullying. My best guess: You do not see yourselves as bullies.


    Harold A. Maio, retired mental health editor

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