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Professional News
SAMHSA Tries Several Strategies To Reach One Goal—Ending Stigma
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 15 page 9-9

Mental illnesses are common, leaving very few families in the United States untouched, but recovery is within reach.

That's the message broadcast by the new public education campaign," Mental Health: It's Part of All Our Lives," which the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) launched in May.

The campaign is part of SAMHSA's three-year Elimination of Barriers Initiative, which aims to increase understanding and acceptance of people with mental illness.

The initiative is a collaborative effort between SAMHSA and a number of state mental health authorities in partnership with people with mental illness, their families, mental health advocates, and health care providers.

The eight states participating in the campaign are California, Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.

In North Carolina, for example, high school teachers, administrators, and principals are being trained to deal effectively with mental health problems among students in 10 schools.

Last May in Boston, more than 3,500 people participated in a 5-kilometer walk sponsored by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill to raise awareness about and reduce stigma surrounding mental illness.

"The fear and stigma that surround mental health problems make it harder for people to access treatment, find employment, or obtain housing," SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie said in a press release." Fortunately, everyone can do something to help reduce stigma."

Based on data from SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, researchers estimated that 17.5 million adults in the United States had a serious mental illness in 2002.

More information about "Mental Health: It's Part of All Our Lives" is posted online at<allmentalhealth.samhsa.gov/english/>.

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