SAMHSA and Ad Council Unveil
National Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaign
Only One in Four Americans Believes People are Sympathetic Towards
Those with Mental Illnesses
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.
"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 recovery."
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 communities.
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 www.samhsa.gov
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 www.adcouncil.org