Beginning today, Americans from every sector of society – from cities and universities, to businesses and individuals – will pledge their commitments to changing the story about mental health in America through The Campaign to Change Direction.
Founded by Give an Hour, in partnership with leading public and private organizations from a cross-section of society, this campaign aims to encourage routine, well-rounded care for mental wellbeing and familiarize Americans with the five signs of emotional suffering, which include withdrawal, agitation, hopelessness, decline in personal care and change in personality.
I am proud that teams from Edelman Chicago and Edelman Washington, D.C. have partnered with Give an Hour as the pro bono communications partner for this campaign. Our work in support of this important movement culminates at today’s launch event which will feature a keynote address by First Lady Michelle Obama and attendance by top government, business and nonprofit leaders.
Edelman has also joined the campaign’s collective effort to reach more than 30 million Americans over the next five years with our pledge to inform our U.S. employees of the five signs of suffering over the next year.
We have made great progress in better understanding and addressing mental illness over the years, and I’ve seen some of this firsthand. My late mother, Ruth Edelman, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder herself, advocated for mental health funding in the U.S. Senate in the 1990s and was actively involved in furthering the goals of the National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association through her visibility as a patient advocate and philanthropist.
Today there are hundreds of organizations working toward the same goal – to provide resources for those with mental illness. But even with all of these advancements and resources, our society is at a crossroads with how it addresses mental health. One in five, or 42.5 million, Americans has a diagnosable mental health condition and it is expected that more Americans will die by suicide than in car accidents this year alone. And while one might talk openly to a doctor or loved one about a heart condition or other physical illness, conversations about mental illness are often swept under the rug.
This campaign aims to change that narrative and change the direction of mental health in America.
To learn more about The Campaign to Change Direction, visit www.changedirection.org and follow the conversation on social media using the hashtag #ChangeMentalHealth.
John Edelman is managing director, global engagement and corporate responsibility.