PSAs debut at Howard University and Colleges and Universities Nationwide as part of First Annual HBCU National Mental Health Awareness Day
Washington, D.C., February 23, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), working in collaboration with the Ad Council and the Stay Strong Foundation, announced today the launch of a national public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to raise awareness of mental health problems among young adults in the African American community. The new PSAs were unveiled at a Black History Month event at Howard University this morning to coincide with the first annual HBCU National Mental Health Awareness Day. The launch was telecast to colleges and universities nationwide.
Mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, are widespread in the U.S. and often misunderstood. According to SAMHSA, in 2008 there were an estimated 9.8 million adults aged 18 or older living with serious mental illness. 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. In 2008, 6.0 percent of African Americans ages 18-25 had serious mental illness in the past year. Overall, only 58.7 percent of Americans with serious mental illness received care within the past 12 months and the percentage of African Americans receiving services is only 44.8 percent.
"Raising understanding and attention to these issues within the African American community will provide greater opportunities for those needing help to receive effective mental health services," said Kathryn A. Power, Director of SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services.
Created pro bono by Grey New York through the Ad Council, the campaign aims to promote acceptance of mental health problems within the African American community by encouraging, educating and inspiring young adults to step up and talk openly about mental health problems. The television, radio, print and Web ads feature real personal stories of African Americans dealing with mental health problems, and they aim to engage those in the community to support young adults who need help.
Terrie M. Williams, MSW, co-founder of The Stay Strong Foundation, collaborated on the development of the Web videos and PSA materials and serves as a campaign spokesperson. The Stay Strong Foundation works to support, educate and inspire African American youth through a series of programs and events that are designed to raise awareness of teen issues, promote the personal well-being of young people and enhance their educational and professional development.
"It is the work of the Stay Strong Foundation and my personal mission to educate everyone, and in particular the African American community, about depression and its impact on our communities," said Williams. "Every day so many of us wear the "mask" of wellness that hides our pain from the world. Now is the time to identify and name our pain—minus the myths and the stigmas—and seek the help so many of us need."
To view the PSAs for the campaign, visit www.storiesthatheal.samhsa.gov, to learn more about mental health problems and how to get involved.
About National HBCU Mental Health Awareness Day: Historically Black Colleges and Universities' Center for Excellence in Substance Abuse and Mental Health at Morehouse School of Medicine, a grant funded through (SAMHSA), created National HBCU Mental Health Awareness Day. The HBCU Mental Health Awareness Day is the first national effort to promote behavioral health on HBCUs. The all-day event is being co-hosted by three additional HBCU institutions, Howard, Elizabeth City State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. The purpose is to increase public knowledge and student awareness about mental health issues and to foster a more supportive and informed environment on HBCU campuses and in the community. For more information, visit http://www.hbcucfe.net/.