The American public will be seeing—and hearing—quite a bit of
APA this month as the Association kicks off a nationwide effort to educate the
public about the importance of mental health in their lives and the
professionals who can best treat them when mental health problems arise.
The new campaign, titled "Healthy Minds. Healthy Lives," is
designed to reach the media and policymakers as well as the general public
with the message that "psychiatric treatment works and seeking such help
is a sign of strength," said Lydia Sermons-Ward, director of the APA
Office of Communications and Public
This advertisement will appear in Newsweek and Family
Circle magazines this month as part of APA's campaign to educate the
public about psychiatrists and the disorders they are uniquely skilled to
"This campaign should help us tell the story of psychiatry and of our
members," said APA Medical Director James H. Scully Jr., M.D. "For
too long we have left it to others to define who we are and what we
The launch of the education effort coincides with Mental Health Month and
involves public service announcements on radio and television stations and
print ads in Newsweek and Family Circle magazines (see the
print ad at right).
The goal of the campaign, which APA is developing in conjunction with the
public-relations firm Porter-Novelli, is to undo the long-entrenched
stereotypes and stigma attached to mental illness and the people who suffer
from it (Psychiatric News, January 7). A key part of this,
Sermons-Ward said, is to reach the people who make health care decisions for
their household with the message that a psychiatrist is the professional most
highly trained to help when mental health issues are a concern in the
At the March meeting of the APA Board of Trustees, Lydia Sermons-Ward,
director of the Office of Communications and Public Affairs, details some of
the strategies and programs that will be integral to the new public-education
campaign whose tag line is "Healthy Minds. Healthy Lives."
Photo: Jack Douthit
The public service announcements—a 30-second spot for television and
a 60-second spot for radio—have been sent to stations in the 50 largest
media markets with the request that they be included in their rotation of such
In addition, early this month Steven Sharfstein, M.D., APA president-elect;
Annelle Primm, M.D., director of APA's Office of Minority and National
Affairs; and consumer advocate Dianne Dorlester were scheduled to conduct a
series of satellite interviews about psychiatry and mental illness with the
hosts of radio and television shows. Those stations can broadcast the
satellite feed live or play the interview at a future date.
Results of a telephone survey recently conducted for APA in which 1,020
adults indicated their opinion of psychiatrists were sent to reporters,
editors, and columnists at media outlets in those same markets
(see box below).
APA also plans to use this month's annual meeting in Atlanta as a forum for
gaining considerable attention for the campaign, Sermons-Ward noted. She is
trying to set up a meeting, for example, with editors and reporters of
Atlanta's largest newspaper, the Journal-Constitution. Banners and
information about the public-education effort will be visible throughout the
convention center and other annual meeting venues.
APA's district branches are also a crucial component of the campaign's
success, she pointed out. All of them were sent a "toolkit" in
April that includes copies of the public service announcements and print ad, a
press release with key messages about the campaign, a list of "talking
points," and information that people can access on the APA Web site.
That Web site,<www.psych.org>,
includes a link to the campaign's Web site at<www.HealthyMinds.org>.
Sermons-Ward hopes that psychiatrists are enthusiastic about the new
campaign and realize that they can play a large part in advancing its goals.
The campaign's success will be enhanced if psychiatrists carry its messages to
the gatekeepers of health care in particular, she noted. She described those
gatekeepers as most often being women aged 30 to 54 who determine whether they
or a family member receive care for a mental health problem. ▪