by Andrew Adam Newman
Only 61 percent of Americans think it appropriate to tell family members about a mental illness diagnosis, according to a recent study commissioned by the New York City Metro chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Just 43 percent approve of telling friends about a diagnosis, and just 13 percent of telling co-workers.
That stigma has prompted the chapter to begin a public service campaign […] Typing IWillListen.org takes visitors to the Facebook page for the New York chapter of the nonprofit, where they are encouraged to post their own videos about mental illness, and to close with the signoff, “I will listen.”
The Web site went live Tuesday with more than 150 videos that JWT helped facilitate, including some with celebrities including actress Mariel Hemingway and writer Andrew Solomon. Mental Illness Awareness Week begins Sunday.
Facebook users will be encouraged to display an “I will listen” badge on their profiles and to use the #IWillListen hashtag on Facebook and Twitter. When hearing about someone’s mental illness, the site advises reacting nonjudgmentally and with understanding. If there is the potential for harm, the numbers for a suicide hot line and local emergency services are provided.
Wendy Brennan, executive director of the New York City Metro chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said the object of the campaign is not to reach just the estimated “one out of four” who experience a mental health disorder in a given year, but rather “the four out of four that can participate” in being supportive.
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