Among adults, the prevalence of serious mental illness is highest in the 18 to 25 age group, yet this age group is also the least likely to receive services or counseling for mental health issues.
To help address this problem and as part of Mental Health Awareness Month, SAMHSA and The Advertising Council today launched a new series of national public service announcements (PSAs) designed to encourage, educate and inspire young adults (18-25 years old) to step up and support friends and family they know are experiencing a mental health problem.
The importance of this effort is underscored by the new 2009 HealthStyles Survey, a collaborative effort by SAMHSA and Porter Novelli, which reveals that almost three-quarters (72 percent) of young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 believe that a person with mental illness would improve if given treatment and support. The study, however also shows that far fewer young adults (33 percent) believe that a person can eventually recover. Other findings include:
- Less than half (40%) of Americans believe a person with mental illness can be as successful at work as others.
- While almost two thirds (65 percent) of young adults who know someone with a mental illness believe that treatment can help people with mental illnesses lead normal lives, only one in five (22 percent) young adults believes that people are generally caring and sympathetic to people with mental illness.
“Now more than ever we know that people can recover from mental health problems,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Today we are getting the word out that support from friends and family can make a difference in helping people overcome these illnesses.”
“Mental health problems are far too often misunderstood and sometimes friends don’t know how to help,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. “This campaign provides steps young people can take to help support their friends experiencing a mental illness.”
The campaign is part of SAMHSA’s public awareness and support strategic initiative to increase understanding of mental illness and substance abuse disorder prevention and treatment.
“For nearly 5 years we have partnered with SAMHSA to address societal misperceptions regarding mental health problems,” said Peggy Conlon, president & CEO of the Ad Council. “We are calling on all young adults to support a loved one or friend who is dealing with a mental health problem so they will have a better chance at recovery.”
Created by the advertising agency Grey New York, through the Ad Council, the campaign aims to promote acceptance of mental health problems by encouraging, educating and inspiring young adults to step up and talk openly about mental health problems. The new television and Web PSAs encourage young adults to step up and help a friend through recovery. The PSAs direct audiences to visit the campaign website, www.whatadifference.samhsa.gov, where they can participate in a new discussion forum, find tools to help in the recovery process, learn about the different types of mental illnesses, read real-life stories about support and recovery, and to see how friends can make all the difference. The PSAs will air in advertising time that will be entirely donated by the media. In an effort to further the reach of the campaign online, a social media program will also kick off this week.
“The best thing you can do for a friend dealing with a mental illness is everything you’ve already been doing,” said Rob Baiocco, Executive Vice President and Executive Creative Director of Grey New York.
The Ad Council and SAMHSA first launched the Campaign for Mental Health Recovery nationwide in December 2006. An African American targeted campaign was launched in February 2010. Additional public service efforts designed to reach Hispanic Americans, Chinese Americans and Native Americans will also be launched this summer. To view the ads, please visit www.adcouncil.org.
SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. ( www.samhsa.gov )
The Ad Council ( www.adcouncil.org ) is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies. The Ad Council addresses issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being, environmental preservation and strengthening families.
Media Contact: SAMHSA Press Office