Yes, It is OK2Talk About Your Mental Health Condition

Sen_Smith_hi In today’s CFYM post Gordon H. Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters and former U.S. Senator from Oregon (1997 to 2009) informs our readers about the innovative OK2Tallk campaign aimed at young adults. This program provides broadcasters with PSA’s to air on their network and features young adults as role models to support peers living with a mental health condition.

Yes, It is OK2Talk About Your Mental Health Condition

How are you doing?” This simple question is one of our most often used phrases, but rarely do we listen to the answer.

It’s our nature to say “fine, thanks” and go on with our day. You rarely – if ever – hear someone say “not well, I’m having a really tough time and would like to talk about it.”

But We Should

One in four Americans will experience a mental health condition this year. That’s more than 78 million people – or a few million more than the populations of California, Texas and Pennsylvania combined. Mental illness doesn’t care if you are tall, short, rich or poor. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate.

Mental illness affected my family. More than ten years ago, my son Garrett took his own life a day short of his 22nd birthday. Garrett was an all-American kid – played football, was an Eagle Scout, served a church mission and always had plenty of friends and a smile on his face. His suicide was a devastating shock to me, my wife and our family, but if we had known better the signs of suicidal tendency and sought help and treatment earlier for Garrett, we believe he would be alive today.

Although it certainly wasn’t by choice, we joined an immense fraternity of sorrow. But as president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters and as a father, it is my choice to bring this conversation into the sunlight of American life.

Nearly two-thirds of young adults have personal experience with mental health conditions. And although the overwhelming majority of parents and young adults support discussing mental conditions more openly, many admit they avoid talking about it. The good news is that when people get the help they need, recovery is possible.

OK2 Talk Helping to Reduce Stigma

With unrivaled reach into homes in every community across America, broadcasters have a powerful platform to encourage young people to start talking about mental health and seek help. We are committed to reducing the stigma and raising awareness of mental health conditions, especially among youth, and launched the OK2TALK campaign in July 2013 to do just that.

These public service announcements (PSAs) received immense support from The White House and mental health community, and aim to encourage dialogue and create a platform for a conversation about mental health. We want to give people who suffer from mental health conditions, and those around them, an opportunity to talk about it and not feel alone.

Since the OK2TALK PSAs debuted, broadcasters across the country have dedicated more than $26 million dollars in airtime to deliver this message. In response, more than 300,000 people have visited OK2TALK.org to share their stories of hope, struggle and recovery, and more than 64,000 have clicked the “Get Help” button on the site, which takes you to mentalhealth.gov and suicide prevention resources.

Watch or listen to the PSA and learn more about our campaign at www.nab.org/OK2TALK, but most importantly realize it’s okay to talk and it’s okay to ask for help.

And the next time you ask someone how they are doing, don’t just settle for “fine.” Encourage an honest answer. It could save their life.

Your Turn

  • Is stigma keeping young adults from seeking help with a mental health condition?
  • What can we do to reduce stigma among young adults?

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13 comments
Karrisma
Karrisma

Is it for adults to fighting mental illness also ??

talktoheal
talktoheal

This is a great way to help our people through their unfortunate depressions and hard times, especially adolescents. Finally, I can someone out there is doing something that we need to make a difference.

Marvin vasquez
Marvin vasquez

if anyone wants to talk to me hit me up on Facebook it marvin vasquez or my Emil vasquezmarvin63@yahoo

com

Marvin vasquez
Marvin vasquez

my family where to put in when I was 13 years old I've been on my own for a while

CFYM
CFYM

We are pleased that CBS 60 Minutes chose to illustrate the consequences of underfunding mental health care in this country through the telling of personal stories: The stigma of raising a mentally ill child and A beloved son turns on his father both demonstrate how lack of appropriate funding from both public and private insurance programs exacts a very painful and human cost. The respectful way in which the program brought awareness to these issues is commended.

careforyourmind
careforyourmind moderator

Through the years celebriteis who openly share their personal lives and experiences have made a difference in lessening stigmas associated with other disorders that have faced discrimination.  Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears is a great example of a celebrity who is helping erase mental health stigma by sharing his personal experience of recovery and living a productive life with a mental health condition.  Check out the OK2Talk YouTube channel and you will see a library of  brave young adults who are willing to share.  I am sure they have made a difference in the lives of some of the people who have viewed them.

STenenbaum
STenenbaum

So how are we going to erase the stigma so that people feel its OKtoTalk?  Can we get more celebrities to candidly share their stories of mental health recovery in a way that makes them mental health role models? If we chip away at the shame, we chip away at the difficulty in asking for help. Celebrities have the power to break down barriers.

 

careforyourmind
careforyourmind moderator

Good point.  But television is not alone. Inaccuracies of mental health conditions also exist in other media outlets too, such as film, magazines and books.  It doesn't help erase stigma and encourage people to get talking when these negative stereotypes abound.

chicagopaul
chicagopaul

I’m all for encouraging people to talk about their problems and I am glad to see programs like the OK2TALK campaign.  But consider these facts I found on the SAMHSA website. They say that a survey done by the Screen Actors’ Guild, shows that characters in prime time television  that are portrayed as having a mental illness are depicted as the most dangerous of all other groups. 60 percent were shown to be involved in crime or violence! This site also says news outlets are to blame – that the vast majority of news stories on mental illness either focus on negative characteristics related to people with the disorder or on medical treatments. If we want to erase stigma broadcasters should focus on positive stories that highlight people living productive lives.

MrJoeHerman
MrJoeHerman

Dear Senator. I applaud your efforts! There is no doubt that stigma stands in the way of young adults seeking help with a mental health challenge and open dialogue is one way of breaking through the barrier. I believe that the media, in it's often inaccurate portrayal of mental illness, is partly responsible for our young people not getting the help they need. I believe it is also the responsibility of the news media to undo some of the damage that has been done. Audiovisual aids are one of the most powerful tools we have to influence change. We recently produced A mental health forum in our city using multimedia to portray the same message of the OK2TALK campaign. Three local television network affiliates were invited to attend. Sadly only one of three showed to cover the event. But thankfully the local CBS affiliate did a wonderful job delivering the message in the top local news story Live in the studio broadcast. I wonder, did the other two television broadcast stations consider this an unworthy event or subject matter to cover? We live in a time of technology where similar PSAs can literally be put in the hands of our young people on mobile devices and viewed in schools, churches and beyond. We saw the OK2Talk PSA several months before and it was considered for use at the forum. It is powerful. Are more being produced? We chose this one made by young adults. http://bit.ly/1cP7OHp Technology and the arts are incredible vehicles to influence change of attitudes in our society. The news media has known this from the advent of television. Perhaps it’s their attitude that needs changing. 

ktcoll
ktcoll

Stigma and lack of communication about the percentage of people suffering from mental illness keeps many young adults from seeking help. As a college student, my son felt isolated and alone in his illness. If not for our family's familiarity  with depression and bipolar disease and a sister nearby who encouraged him to seek help, he may never have done so. It seems there needs to be better networking on college campuses, as well as the young adult community in general, to bring people together, inform them that there is help available, so that they don't feel alone in this. Senator Smith's OK2TALK PSAs are a step in the right direction.

careforyourmind
careforyourmind moderator

You raise a valid point bringing the discussion on mental health into the public dialogue can help to dispel myths and the media and news outlets are in a position to lead the way.

kimgallen
kimgallen

You’re right Senator Gordon, broadcasters do have a responsibility to accurately portray the lives of people living with a mental health condition. Why aren’t news outlets telling the truth about people living with a mental health condition? Only a small number of people living with a mental health condition are violent. In fact quite the opposite, a person living with a mental health condition is more often the victim of a crime rather than a perpetrator of a crime. Can we see some PSA’s about that?Thanks for the good work on getting people talking.