SAMHSA Launches Anti-Stigma Campaign
Only One in Four Americans Believe People Are Sympathetic Towards Those with Mental Illnesses
|Above are images from one of SAMHSA's new public service announcements (PSAs)—"What a Difference a Friend Makes"—part of the Agency's new mental health campaign to increase awareness nationwide and encourage young adults to play a role in a friend's recovery.
SAMHSA, in partnership with the Ad Council, recently launched a national awareness campaign designed to decrease the negative attitudes that surround mental illness.
The campaign's public service announcements (PSAs) also encourage young adults to support their friends who are living with mental health problems. The PSAs are being distributed to media outlets nationwide.
Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of Americans (85 percent) believe that people with mental illnesses are not to blame for their conditions, only about one in four (26 percent) agree that people are generally caring and sympathetic toward individuals with mental illnesses, according to a new Healthy Lifestyles survey.
The survey is conducted annually by Porter Novelli, a global public-relations company that licenses use of the data. The new 2006 survey data also found that only one-quarter of young adults believe that a person with a mental illness can eventually recover. And, slightly more than one-half (54 percent) of young adults who know someone with a mental illness believe that treatment can help people with mental illnesses lead normal lives.
According to SAMHSA, in 2005 an estimated 24.6 million adults age 18 or older experienced serious psychological distress (SPD), which is highly correlated with serious mental illness. Among 18 to 25 year olds, the prevalence of SPD is high (18.6 percent for 18 to 25 year olds vs. 11.3 percent for all adults 18+). Yet, this age group shows the lowest rate of help-seeking behaviors. People with mental health conditions in this segment have a high potential to minimize future disability if social acceptance is broadened, and they receive the right support and services early on.
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Friendship Is Key
Created pro bono by Grey Worldwide, the new PSA campaign aims to reach 18- to 25-year-old adults who have friends living with mental illnesses. The campaign highlights the importance of their providing support. Featuring a voiceover by actor Liev Schreiber, the television and radio spots illustrate how friendship is the key to recovery. The campaign also includes print and interactive advertising as well as a new Web site.
The PSAs were distributed to more than 28,000 media outlets nationwide and will air in advertising time that will be donated by the media. For more information and to view the new ads, please visit www.whatadifference.samhsa.gov.
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