First Lady, APF, Broad Coalition Pledge to 'Change Direction' of U.S. MH Dialogu

March 7, 2015
“It is time to tell everyone who is dealing with a mental health issue in this country that they are not alone and that getting support and treatment isn’t a sign of weakness--it’s a sign of strength,” First Lady Michelle Obama told 500 mental health leaders and advocates at the launch in Washington, D.C., of the “Change Direction” campaign. 

The campaign builds on the work of Give an Hour, which arranges for pro bono mental health services for veterans and their families. “Change Direction” unites an array of businesses, government entities, and organizations to educate at least 30 million Americans about mental illness. The American Psychiatric Foundation, APA, and American Psychiatric Publishing are founding members of the campaign.

“We need to change the conversation about mental illness and recognize that it is not different from any other illness,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., emphasizing a core theme of all the event’s speakers.

The campaign seeks to raise awareness and train people to recognize five signs of emotional suffering in themselves or the people around them: withdrawal, agitation, hopelessness, decline in personal care, and change in personality. Target audiences include military personnel, veterans, and family members; corporate and government employees; first responders; students, teachers, school officials, and coaches; and health care professionals

“Our mental health is just as vital as our physical health and treating it that way will take courage from everybody,” concluded Obama. “If we can summon that strength, then I guarantee that we will save lives and soon enough, caring for our mental health won’t be considered such a courageous act. It will be just another part of our lives.”

For more in Psychiatric News about Give an Hour, see the Psychiatric News article “Give an Hour to Expand Free Care for Veterans.”


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