There have been many excellent mental-health-focused public education efforts created and implemented over the years by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and other well respected mental health associations and organizations. These efforts have tended to focus on helping people understand mental health conditions, mental illness and available treatments.
There have also been compelling anti-stigma efforts designed to decrease the stigma associated with mental illness – including efforts championed by non profits such as Mental Health America (MHA), the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the National Council on Behavioral Health, Bring Change 2 Mind and Active Minds. All of these initiatives have contributed to the change in culture we seek – yet far too many people continue to suffer unnecessarily because of the shame and guilt they feel about emotional challenges they face.
The Campaign to Change Direction is a broad-based public health approach focused on changing the culture of mental health, mental illness and emotional well-being. And while it is too early to tell, some indicators suggest that the Campaign’s simple messages may break through our cultural barriers and become part of a shared view of overall health and well-being. If we succeed, we will reduce suffering and ensure that those in need are identified early and receive the care and support they deserve.
The Campaign to Change Direction launched in 2015 with former First Lady Michelle Obama as its first champion. Having such an articulate and admired public figure supporting the effort has been key to our success. In addition, several other celebrities and influencers have added their voices to the movement including Dr. Jill Biden, Prince Harry, Richard Gere, Brian Wilson, Chris Stapleton and Chamique Holdsclaw.