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SAMHSA News - July/August 2004, Volume 12, Number 4

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.

Cover and page from "Mental Health: It's Part of All Our Lives" - click to view brochureThe campaign, Mental 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 make.

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 administrators.

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 ( 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). End of Article

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Inside This Issue

Older Adults: Improving Mental Health Services
  • Part 1
  • Part 2
    Older Adults—Related Content:
  • From the Administrator: Mental Health for Older Americans
  • Resources for Older Adults
  • Targeted Capacity Expansion Sites
  • Countering Stigma
  • Prescription Drugs & Alcohol Don't Mix
  • Increases in Substance Abuse Treatment
      Chart—All Admissions, 2001
  • Safety Tips on Medicines & Alcohol

    Stigma and Mental Illness: SAMHSA Raises Awareness

    SAMHSA Unveils Strategic Prevention Framework

    In Brief…
  • HIPAA Publication
  • Publications in Spanish
  • Children's Program Kit
  • ADSS Cost Study

    Behind the Numbers: SAMHSA's Survey on Drug Use

    For Many Youth, Summer Means First-Time Substance Use
    Related Content:  
  • Chart—First Time Substance Use
  • Young Drivers Report

    SAMHSA Releases Updated Directory of Treatment Programs

    Tip 40—Buprenorphine Treatment: Guide for Physicians

    Treatment Admissions Increase for Opiates, Marijuana, Methamphetamine

    Drug-Abusing Mothers Place Their Children at Risk

    Non-medical Use of Prescription Pain Relievers Increases

    Recovery Month Toolkit Now Available

    SAMHSA Revamps Agency Web Site, Improves Usability

    SAMHSA News

    SAMHSA News - July/August 2004, Volume 12, Number 4

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