The National Mental Health Association (NMHA) is harnessing the power of music to raise national awareness about mental illness and its treatments in a new campaign called "Mpower: Musicians for Mental Health."
The campaign is reaching youth through the Internet, radio, and in person—campaign staff have set up informational booths at a number of concerts in order to hand out literature on mental health topics.
Bands such as Third Eye Blind and singers such as Michelle Branch have recorded public service announcements (PSAs) that can be heard on radio stations and on the campaign’s Web site, at www.nmha.org/mpower/mpower.html.
Other musicians participating in the campaign include musical mainstays such as Jackson Browne and James Taylor, and relative newcomers Vanessa Carlton, the Pietasters, and Fat Joe.
"When you’re down and out, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a parent, teacher, counselor, someone—anyone who can help. If you had a broken leg, you’d ask for help with that, right?" asks Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins on one PSA.
The Mpower Web site features facts about topics such as stress, self-injury, depression, and eating disorders, as well as testimonials from young people who have experienced mental illness themselves or encountered it in a loved one.
Among the testimonials is one from 17-year-old Katie. She started experiencing the symptoms of bipolar disorder when she was 5 years old but was misdiagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and spent the following years in foster homes, hospitals, and shelters.
She is now taking lithium and seeing a psychiatrist on a regular basis and says her symptoms are under control.
According to her testimonial, Katie now visits residential treatment facilities to tell her peers "there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and with hard work and commitment to their treatment they can be successful too."
The Mpower Web site also includes advice about where to turn for help with mental health problems, including numbers to a national suicide hotline and a search function for local crisis centers and NMHA affiliates.
More information about the NMHA campaign Mpower: Musicians for Mental Health is posted online at www.nmha.org/mpower/mpower.html. ▪
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