Public opinion on mental health and psychiatry is driving the message
behind APA's 2006 "Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives" campaign, which
will make its debut in time for Mental Health Month in May. The campaign
includes outreach to members of racial and ethnic minorities and nationally
broadcast interviews with
The homepage of APA's "Healthy Minds. Health LIves" campaign
APA will launch this year's campaign on April 25 with a media satellite
tour in which several well-known APA members and a mental health consumer will
grant live interviews with the media on a variety of mental health topics. The
interviews will be broadcast nationally on radio and television.
In addition, a special health insert will run on that day in the
Washington Post featuring essays by APA President Steven Sharfstein,
M.D., who will debunk some of the myths associated with psychiatry and
reinforce the importance of seeking treatment for mental illness; National
Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow, M.D., who will write about
treating drug addiction; and APA's Office of Minority and National Affairs
Director Annelle Primm, M.D., M.P.H., who will address mental health
disparities among ethnic and minority populations and the importance of
understanding race and culture in the context of treating minority
Other topics to be addressed in the Washington Post insert will
include disaster psychiatry, depression and the workplace, and postpartum
depression. The insert will be limited to editions distributed within the
Washington, D.C., metro region.
APA's Healthy Minds Web site will also reflect the messages behind APA's
2006 campaign, which will be determined through a series of focus group
meetings held in Rockville, Md., and a national Web-based survey of about
1,000 men and women conducted last month by the public relations firm Porter
Similar surveys conducted last spring were helpful in directing the
messages and goals of APA's 2005 campaign, according to Lydia Sermons-Ward,
director of APA's Office of Communications and Public Affairs.
"The research helped us to obtain baseline measures of perceptions
and attitudes toward psychiatry and mental illnesses," Sermons-Ward told
The results of a telephone survey of more than 1,000 men and women revealed
that 90 percent believed that people with mental illness can lead healthy
lives and 80 percent believed that treatment for mental illness works. In
addition, focus group meetings with a diverse group of women conducted in
Baltimore and Chicago revealed that while the women viewed psychiatrists as
the best professionals to treat mental disorders, they also believed that many
psychiatrists tended to be impersonal, judgmental, condescending, and
regimented, according to Sermons-Ward.
"We need to change those perceptions so that people view
psychiatrists as a safe, trustworthy source of expertise and guidance,"
The focus groups were composed of women because "they are usually the
gatekeepers when it comes to decisions about finances and health in the
family," she added.
The 2006 Healthy Minds campaign will also feature a series of new"
Let's Talk Facts" brochures that will be available to the public
beginning next month.
Some of the new brochures will address mental health issues of minority
populations such as African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, Asian
Americans, and Pacific Islanders.
In addition, a brochure about APA will provide information on its
activities, mission, and services; another brochure is aimed at medical
students and other individuals considering careers in psychiatry.
The Healthy Minds Web site will be updated throughout the year to provide
information on a variety of topics, including children and adolescents,
college mental health, and the mental health issues of specific ethnic and
racial groups, according to Sermons-Ward.
New brochures and information on several sections of the Web site will also
be available in Spanish.
According to APA President-elect Pedro Ruiz, M.D., the campaign's renewed
focus on improving the mental health of ethnic minorities is crucial."
We need to reach out to the Hispanic population and to other ethnic
minorities living in the country so that we can decrease stigma and help bring
them into the mental health system," he told Psychiatric
Moreover, Ruiz pointed out, many illegal immigrants delay seeking medical
care until their illnesses progress to the point where they require emergency
services and hospitalization because they are afraid of being deported.
"Medical care is much more costly at that point," Ruiz
observed, and it takes longer for the patients to recover.
Ruiz also called for increased cultural competence training in medical
schools and residency programs "so that physicians can provide a higher
quality of care to ethnic minority populations."
More information on the "Healthy Minds. Healthy Lives"
campaign can be obtained by contacting APA's Office of Communications and
Public Affairs at