A Very Hopeful Program Available to Young Adults Regarding Mental Illness
On June 3rd I wrote an article entitled “There is Hope: Mental Health Conference at White House” One of the things discussed at the conference was that “National broadcasters in July are starting a campaign to let people know that it is ok to talk about it, that help and healing are available, encourage those who need help to get help, and if you know someone who needs help to encourage them to get help”
I am excited that this campaign is now available.
The Story Behind the Initiative
Former Senator Gordon Smith and now head of the National Association of Broadcasters has started a promising radio campaign that encourages teenagers and young adults to share their experiences with mental illness. He is passionate about this cause because “his son swallowed a handful of sleeping pills and hanged himself in his closet, ending a long struggle with depression.” Ref1
OK2TALK started airing July 25th on television and radio stations nationwide. The message directs viewers to a website where there is a “community for teens and young adults struggling with mental health problems and it encourages them to talk about what they’re experiencing by sharing their personal stories of recovery, tragedy, struggle or hope. Anyone can add their voice by sharing creative content such as poetry, inspirational quotes, photos, videos, song lyrics and messages of support in a safe, moderated space. We hope this is the first step towards getting help and feeling better.” Ref2
The Public Service Announcement
The public service announcement can be found on Youtube. It is called There’s Hope. It also is available in Spanish.
Some astounding statistics:
- Approximately 20% of adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder Ref4
- Although more than 25% of young adults and their parents have had personal experience with mental health problems, two-thirds of them avoid talking about mental illness Ref3
- Between 500,000 and one million young people aged 15 to 24 attempt suicide each year Ref5
- More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED Ref5
- 4 out of 5 teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs Ref5
- An estimated 67% to 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Ref4
- Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder and eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness Ref6
- About 20% of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood Ref7
- 2.5 percent of youth met criteria for bipolar disorder in their lifetime Ref8
- The rate of diagnosis of new cases of schizophrenia increases in the teen years, reaching a peak of vulnerability between the ages of 16 and 25 years. Ref9
I am now 42 and started suffering from deep depressions at the age of 13 and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 17 after a full-blown manic episode. The stigma of mental illness made it hard for me to fit in and I felt alone and ashamed to admit that I had a mental illness. (My Story) I wish that something like this was available when I was a child. More information regarding this can be found on my blog article entitled “Facing a Mental Illness while in School” I hope that many teenagers, their friends and loved ones use this very valuable resource to find help and that by people sharing their stories it helps to erase the stigma.
Picture found at: http://ok2talk.org/