At a press briefing last month in Washington, D.C., Sergio
Aguilar-Gaxiola, M.D., Ph.D. (left), chair of the board of Mental Health
America, and David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO, have a moment of fun
despite the cold rain. The organization's new name and the results of a survey
on stress were announced at the briefing. Mental Health America
The National Mental Health Association has changed its name to Mental
Health America and is launching an ambitious campaign to raise awareness and
spur discussion about mental health and wellness.
The Alexandria, Va.,-based association announced its new name and released
initial findings from an attitudinal survey on stress at a media briefing on
Capitol Hill last month.
"Mental Health America will make mental health—and its
fundamental role in overall health—more relevant to each person living
in this nation," said David Shern, M.D., who became the association's
president and CEO last June, after serving as dean of the Louis de la Parte
Florida Mental Health Institute at the University of South Florida. He said
that the association will continue its efforts to get mental health parity
legislation passed by educating legislators about its importance and
collaborating with other mental health advocacy organizations.
The survey results that Mental Health America announced painted an
informative picture of the types and amount of stress Americans
The survey was conducted through telephone and Internet interviews from
October 10 to November 1 with a nationally representative sample of 3,040
individuals aged 18 and older.
The interviews revealed that the way people cope with stress differed along
demographic lines. Among ethnic or racial groups, African Americans were found
to be more likely than other groups to use prayer or meditation to deal with
stress and anxiety, while Asian Americans were least likely to smoke, drink,
or use drugs to cope. Women (42 percent) were significantly more likely than
men (31 percent) to eat as a coping mechanism. Of all demographic groups
surveyed, parents reported feeling the most stress, and respondents who had
college degrees were less likely to feel stressed overall than any other
Although most respondents said they viewed their mental health as being
excellent or very good, when pressed, many acknowledged specific pressures
that add significant stress to their daily lives (see
"Each of us lives with daily stress as well as challenges—such
as living with chronic illness or experiencing a traumatic event—that
can impact our entire lives," said Shern. "We have the knowledge
and experience to know how to improve the nation's mental health. What we lack
is a national response commensurate with the magnitude of the
Mental Health America plans to release over the next several months
additional findings about the stigma that surrounds mental illness, the types
of stress that affects veterans, and Americans' perceptions of health care
systems, doctor-patient relationships, and other topics.
Later that same day, the association held its Mental Health America Awards
Dinner and conferred awards on A. Kathryn Power, M.Ed., director of the Center
for Mental Health Services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Administration; Wayne Burton, M.D., senior vice president and medical
executive at JP Morgan Chase; and Jack Mahone, M.D., medical director at
Pitney Bowes Inc.
More information about Mental Health America can be accessed at its
new Web site,<www.mentalhealthamerica.net>.
A press release reporting the first round of survey results is posted at<www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/about-us/pressroom/news-releases/news-releases/nov-16-2006-Americans-reveal-top-stressors-how-they-cope>.▪