FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Director of Communications
Office of University Communications
Government and Depression Author Target
with Mental Health Campaign
WASHINGTON – The leading federal mental
health agency and mental health activist Terri Williams, whose book Black Pain documented her own struggle with depression, kicked off
a nationwide, two-year campaign Tuesday at Howard University to increase
treatment for African Americans with mental disorders.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and
Williams, who established a foundation to help African Americans with
depression after her mental breakdown, joined the Ad Council and Williams’
Stay Strong Foundation to unveil three television public service announcements
they hope will diminish the stigma of mental health among African Americans.
The announcements will be sent to 33,000 media outlets.
the launch at the university’s Cancer Center, the organizations also
highlighted a new Web site, www.storiesthatheal.samhsa.gov, with videos of African Americans, famous and
unknown, talking about their struggles with depression and their families’
history of mental health issues, and how it affected them.
pointed participants to her organization’s Web site that deals with
depression, www.usedtobeme.net, and urged young African Americans to help remove
the stigma associated with mental disease.
is killing black people by the thousands,” Williams said, “and it’s
important to talk about it, no matter what our own personal fear might
be. We must share our stories with each other, especially our
campaign targets African Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 because
they have a higher incidence of mental health disorders than the overall
population, said Paolo del Vecchio of SAMHSA.
also know the increase in the suicide rate among young African Americans
is twice the rate of their white counterparts,” he said. “Additionally,
less than one half of African Americans who need treatment receive it.”
event, which coincided with the first HBCU National Mental Health Awareness
Day, was coordinated by sociologist Donna Holland Barnes, an instructor
in the Department of Psychiatry at Howard University and director of
the University’s Suicide Prevention Program.
many African Americans do not recognize this is a significant problem
within our community,” said Barnes, who lost a son to suicide.
“We are less likely to seek help. If we do seek help, we’re
less likely to comply with treatment. The result can be fatal,
and can lead to either suicide or homicide.”