The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), working in collaboration with the Ad Council, announced today a program that has delivered their National Mental Health Anti-Stigma public service advertising (PSA) campaign for the first time directly to colleges and universities throughout the country. The campaign aims to reach 18-25-year-old adults and is designed to decrease the negative attitudes that surround mental illness by encouraging these young adults to support friends with mental health problems. As an extension of the campaign, new materials created specifically for college students have been distributed to colleges and universities nationwide.
Mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, are widespread in the United States. According to SAMHSA, in 2007 there were an estimated 24.9 million adults aged 18 or older living with serious psychological distress, an indicator highly correlated with serious mental illness.
Among 18-25-year-olds, the prevalence of serious psychological distress is the highest in the adult population, yet this age group was the least likely to receive treatment or counseling. Young people are more likely to seek help if social acceptance is broadened and they receive support and services early on.
According to fall 2007 data from the National College Health Assessment Report, more than half of all college students in the United States reported feeling “things were hopeless” and more than a third said they have felt during the past school year “so depressed it was difficult to function.” Additionally, almost one in 10 students said that they have seriously considered attempting suicide during the past year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.