CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Division of Mental Health today announced a new public education campaign to promote good mental health. The campaign, launched at a rally at Navy Pier, will also empower those living with a mental health issue to Say it out loud. While other campaigns have used emotional appeals and dramatic imagery to draw attention to the issue of mental health, Say it out loud will use stories from real people to show that mental health is vital to overall health and well-being.
“Say it out loud will help remove the stigma that prevents people from either seeking or offering help and support for mental illness which impacts as many as one in five Illinoisans,” said Governor Blagojevich.
The new statewide public education and engagement campaign is jointly sponsored by the IDHS Division of Mental Health and the Illinois Children's Mental Health Partnership, a network of more than 30 organizations across the state. The campaign will include radio and print messages, outdoor and transit advertising. Campaign partners and mental health professionals will conduct outreach and training at the grassroots level.
The campaign was unveiled today at a rally on Chicago’s Navy Pier as the state begins its annual observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, which Gov. Blagojevich proclaimed as Say it out loud Month for May 2008. Scores of mental health advocates will join those who are living today with mental health challenges at the rally, with many wearing the campaign’s signature yellow T-shirt emblazoned with Say it out loud in blue.
“In today’s stressful world, everything we do to promote good mental health in ourselves and the people we care about contributes to healthier, balanced, productive, happy lives,” said Lorrie Rickman Jones, Ph.D., Director of Mental Health for the Illinois Department of Human Services. “And help is available for those who need it. But, too often we’re reluctant to ask the right questions, or to express our concern or support. This campaign is about helping people find an easier way to talk about this critical component of our total health.”
According to Rickman Jones, while 70-90 percent of mental health diagnoses are treatable, data shows that fewer than half of the people who experience these mental health challenges actually seek treatment.
The Say it out loud campaign is based on current research indicating that the best way to address the misperceptions associated with mental illnesses is by giving people the opportunity to engage with one another on the subject in a meaningful way and to share their experiences and knowledge. Thus, the campaign is using the stories of real people in advertisements being distributed to newspapers and radio stations in every county of the state, and through videos featured on the campaign’s new Web site, www.mentalhealthillinois.org. The campaign also promotes a new toll-free telephone line providing access to mental health resources and referrals through the Illinois Mental Health Collaborative for Access and Choice (866-359-7953 or 866-880-4459 TTY).
The Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership was created by the Children’s Mental Health (CMH) Act of 2003 and charged with developing, implementing and monitoring a statewide plan to promote the mental health and well-being of children from birth through eighteen years of age. The partnership is comprised of more than 30 members appointed by the Governor who represent families, child advocates, education, early childhood, health, mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, substance abuse, violence prevention, and others. Relevant state agencies and state legislators are also included in the partnership.