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DHS launches Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaign at Taste of Chicago   Send a link to a friend

Only one in four Americans believes people are sympathetic toward those with mental illness

[June 29, 2007]  CHICAGO -- The Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Ad Council are joining a national public awareness campaign around those living with mental illness. The "What a Difference a Friend Makes" campaign is 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. The Department of Human Services will kick off the campaign in Illinois with an informational booth at the Taste of Chicago, June 29-July 8, and print, radio and TV ads will run statewide.

"Mental health problems can affect anyone at any time and when untreated can have devastating results. It's important for people to understand how mental illness can affect individuals, families and communities," said Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D., "We all need to learn how we can support our friends who are living with a mental illness because caring friends can make a real difference."

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration launched the Mental Health National Anti-Stigma Campaign to encourage, educate and inspire people between 18 and 25 to support their friends who are experiencing mental health problems. The prevalence of serious mental health conditions in this age group is almost double that of the general population, yet young people have the lowest rate of help-seeking behaviors. This group has a high potential to minimize future disability if social acceptance is broadened and they receive the right support and services early on.

"All persons with mental illness can recover and participate fully in life," said Adams. "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. With this public awareness campaign, we are showing how friends can be supportive of those who have 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 HealthStyles Survey. The survey data, licensed from Porter Novelli by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 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 half (54 percent) who know someone with a mental illness believe that treatment can help people with mental illnesses lead normal lives.

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The campaign's television and radio ads, created pro bono by Grey Worldwide, illustrate how friendship is the key to recovery. The campaign also includes print and interactive advertising that directs audiences to visit a comprehensive new online site,, to learn more about mental health and what they can do to play a role in their friends' recovery.

To view the ads and learn more about the campaign, visit The public service announcements were distributed to more than 28,000 media outlets nationwide earlier this year and will air in advertising time that will be donated by the media.

In addition to collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaign has partnered with other federal agencies, including the National Institute of Mental Health, 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 had a series of regional meetings to develop a grass-roots network to support the campaign and provide assistance with anti-stigma efforts in states and local communities.

The Department of Human Services serves more than 180,000 Illinoisans with mental illness through a network of 162 community-based agencies, 25 community hospitals and nine state-operated mental health centers.

[Text from Illinois Department of Human Services news release received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]


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