Stigma and Mental Illness: SAMHSA Raises Awareness
SAMHSA recently launched a multimedia public education effort to
raise awareness about the stigma and discrimination associated with
mental illness. The campaign includes broadcast and print public
service announcements that seek to educate the public that mental
illnesses are common, they affect nearly every family across the
Nation, and that recovery is possible.
Health: It's Part of All Our Lives, is part of a 3-year
initiative in eight states: California, Florida, Massachusetts,
North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. Featuring
people who have experienced mental illnesses, the educational materials
emphasize the key contributions that people with mental illnesses
Following the campaign in these eight states, SAMHSA will evaluate
the effectiveness of the program and then, if effective, launch
a national dissemination effort.
"All Americans must understand that effective treatments
and supports for mental illnesses exist and that people do recover,"
said SAMHSA Administrator Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W. "The
fear and stigma that surround mental health problems make it harder
for people to access treatment, find employment, or obtain housing.
Fortunately, everyone can do something to help reduce stigma."
SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that
17.5 million adults age 18 or older had serious mental illness in
2002. This campaign, part of SAMHSA's Elimination
of Barriers Initiative, will promote greater public understanding.
The Web sites include information on the myths and facts about
mental health, descriptions of a variety of mental health disorders,
links to referral information on accessing mental health services,
free materials, information on what people can do to address stigma
and discrimination, and resources in each of the pilot states. Specific
materials are also in development targeting employers and high school
The Initiative is a collaborative effort among SAMHSA and the
eight state mental health authorities, in partnership with mental
health consumers, family members, advocates, providers, and a range
of national and state mental health organizations. With technical
support from the Initiative, the pilot states are undertaking an
array of additional strategies—such as speakers' bureaus,
music festivals, health fairs, and celebrations of recovery.
As part of the Initiative, SAMHSA is evaluating these efforts,
along with the educational materials, to determine their effectiveness.
When the Initiative ends in 2005, SAMHSA will compile the findings
into an evaluation report.
More information about the Mental
Health: It's Part of All Our Lives campaign and the Elimination
of Barriers Initiative is available on the SAMHSA Web site in English
and in Spanish (www.nuestrasaludmental.samhsa.gov).
For more information about mental health, contact SAMHSA's
National Mental Health Information Center, P.O. Box 42490, Washington,
DC 20015. Telephone: 1 (800) 789-2647 or 1 (866) 889-2647 (TTY).
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