SAMHSA and Ad Council Unveil National Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaign - Video Available

The Advertising Council
2006-12-05 14:49 1346

Only One in Four Americans Believes People are Sympathetic Towards Those With

Mental Illnesses

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The Substance Abuse and Mental

Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in partnership with the Ad

Council, today launched a national awareness public service advertising

(PSA) campaign designed to decrease the negative attitudes that surround

mental illness and encourage young adults to support their friends who are

living with mental health problems.

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"We took a new approach to de-stigmatizing mental illness with this

campaign," said Assistant Surgeon General Eric B. Broderick, SAMHSA Acting

Deputy Administrator. "Instead of telling people why they shouldn't

discriminate against people with mental illnesses, we are showing how

friends can be supportive of those who have disclosed they are having a

mental health problem and the critical role that friendship plays in


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) agrees that people

are generally caring and sympathetic toward individuals with mental

illnesses, according to a new HealthStyles Survey released today. The

survey data, licensed from Porter Novelli by SAMHSA and the Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention, 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) who know someone with a mental

illness believe that treatment can help people with mental illnesses lead

normal lives.

"The advances made in treatments and services for mental illnesses

offer the hope of recovery for all," said Acting Surgeon General Dr.

Kenneth Moritsugu, M.D., M.P.H, who helped to kick off the campaign.

"Mental illness is not something to be ashamed of. It is an illness that

should be treated with the same urgency and compassion as any other

illness. And just like any other illness, the support of friends and family

members is key to recovery."

According to SAMHSA, in 2005 there were an estimated 24.6 million

adults aged 18 or older who 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 18-25, vs.

11.3 percent for all adults 18 years of age and older). But this age group

shows the lowest rate of help-seeking behaviors. Additionally, those 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.

Created pro bono by Grey Worldwide, the PSA campaign aims to reach 18-

to 25-year-old adults who have friends living with mental illnesses. It

highlights the importance of their providing support. Featuring a voiceover

by Tony award-winning actor Liev Schreiber, the television and radio spots

illustrate how friendship is the key to recovery. The campaign also

includes print and interactive advertising that directs audiences to visit

a new comprehensive Web site, to

learn more about mental health and what they can do to play a role in their

friend's recovery.

"The prevalence of mental illness among young adults in our country is

staggering. We need to reduce the widespread stigma and provide a greater

opportunity for recovery," said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of The

Advertising Council. "The compelling PSAs show young adults the critical

role they have in supporting friends with mental illnesses, and will help

reduce the stigma. Additionally, this age group can be a great catalyst for

the rest of the population."

In addition to collaborating with the CDC, SAMHSA's National Mental

Health Anti-Stigma Campaign has partnered with other federal agencies,

including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), State mental

health agencies, leading researchers on stigma, and a broad coalition of

stakeholders, including organizations that represent provider organizations

and consumer and family member groups. The Campaign held a series of

regional meetings to develop a grassroots network to support the Campaign

and provide assistance with anti-stigma efforts to States and local


A resource guide entitled, "Developing a Stigma Reduction Initiative,"

was also recently released and is based on the evaluation and lessons

learned from the Elimination of Barriers Initiative. The guide provides

information on how to mount a statewide anti-stigma campaign, examples of

outreach materials, reports on the best practices for stigma reduction, and

lists important resources for technical assistance. Copies of the guide can

be obtained by calling SAMHSA's National Mental Health Information

Clearinghouse at 1-800-789-2647.

To view the ads, please visit

The PSAs were distributed to more than 28,000 media outlets nationwide

earlier this month and will air in advertising time that will be donated by

the media.

SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and

Human Services. The agency is responsible for improving the accountability,

capacity and effectiveness of the nation's substance abuse prevention,

addictions, treatment and mental health services delivery system. SAMHSA

can be reached at

The Advertising Council is a private, non-profit organization that has

been the largest producer of PSAs in the nation since 1942. To learn more

about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit

Source: The Advertising Council