National Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaign

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The National Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaign is a campaign in the United States to eliminate the social stigma associated with mental illness.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2005 there were an estimated 21.4 million adults in the US aged 18 or older with serious psychological distress (SPD).[citation needed] Among 18- to 25-year-olds, the prevalence of serious mental health conditions was high (almost double that of the general population), yet this age group showed the lowest rate of help-seeking behaviors. Additionally, those with mental health conditions in this segment had a high potential to minimize future disability if social acceptance was broadened and they received the right support and services early on.

The final report of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health identified stigma as one of the most pervasive barriers “to understanding the gravity of mental illnesses and the importance of mental health.”[citation needed] The report stated that stigma was widespread in the United States and referred to stigma as “a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the general public to fear, reject, avoid, and discriminate against people with mental illnesses. Stigma leads others to avoid living, socializing, or working with, renting to, or employing people with mental disorders - especially severe disorders, such as schizophrenia. It leads to low self-esteem, isolation, and hopelessness. It deters the public from seeking and wanting to pay for care. Responding to stigma, people with mental health problems internalize public attitudes and become so embarrassed or ashamed that they often conceal symptoms and fail to seek treatment.”[citation needed]

The campaign's goals are to encourage and educate 18-to-25-year-olds to support friends they know are experiencing a mental health problem. Furthermore, the campaign aims to improve the lives of 18- to 25-year-old mental health service recipients by targeting their friends and peers to provide the support needed for recovery.

Campaign elements included TV ads on Friends and other programs; ads on radio, print, bus shelters, mall posters and online. The campaign also launched a website providing information for the target and mental health consumers about mental health problems, recovery, and tips on how one can support one’s friend who is living with a mental illness, and a brochure offering tools to help support a friend they know is living with a mental illness in his/her recovery process, available free through the website.


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