Sydney Johnson
8 February 2015
Katie Rosenthal
Principles English Composition 1213


In order to put a stop to the stigma towards mental illness, educating the public through
awareness is the solution. In efforts to change the view on mental illness, the National Alliance
on Mental Illness (NAMI) is applying many ideas to enlighten the public about mental illness.
NAMI has established May as National Health Month and a week in mid-October as National
Awareness Week. During these designated times many activities are organized at national and
local levels to raise awareness about mental illness. Activities include concerts, walks,
advertisement campaigns, and other awareness events (NAMI). These activities teach people
about mental illness, along with supporting the association. The challenge is making the
population aware of the organized activities and helping them recognize the importance of
supporting the events. By making the awareness week and month activities more widely known
and using the alliance to help apply other educational techniques, the stigma can be improved.
In addition, to awareness week and month, the mental illness color is green. According to
NAMI, they have a motto called “Go Green”. Using social media and other forms of marketing,
NAMI is working to increase the association between the color green and mental illness. For
example, last year Niagara Falls made their water look green in honor of mental health week. In
2013 a NFL player, Brandon Marshall, who had been diagnosed with borderline personality
disorder, wore green shoes during a football game to bring awareness to mental illness (Samuel).
NAMI works with many organizations and companies nationwide to encourage people to wear
green during the mental health campaigns in May and October. However, wearing green for



mental health is not as commonly known as wearing pink for breast cancer. With time and effort
the “Go Green” motto could soon become known and widespread and the color green will be
associated with mental health awareness. Recognition of green as the mental health color will
lead the public to become more aware, and hopefully, more educated about mental illness to help
fight the stigma.
Schools and colleges are a target market to educate about mental illness. Through
education of students, and student led clubs, NAMI addresses the many issues associated with
mental health on campus. Campus activities are designed to be a positive experience and
encouraging to students. Mental health is a growing issue on campuses and learning about
mental illness can help. Campus education could not only improve the public’s negative stigma,
but may sway those who may have a mental illness seek help. Recently, The University of
Oklahoma held a “Mental Health Speaks” open conversation on campus. University Student,
Jake Morgan, states the goal is to spread awareness and find solutions for mental illness on
campus (Morgan). By spreading awareness of the issues with mental illness, students can educate
themselves on mental health and improve the stigma. Events like “Mental Health Speaks”, gives
students a chance to come together and create solutions for mental illness stigmas.
Like colleges, primary and secondary students are in need of education on mental illness.
In The Science of Mental Illness Test, education and intervention to a group of kids helped
change their perception of mental illness (Changing). This test demonstrates a small amount of
education to young kids can help them view mental illness in a more understanding way. In order
to implement education programs in schools, the institutions could support Mental Health
Awareness Week by having speakers or encouraging students to wear green. According to
American Psychological Association, there needs to be an increase of mental illness awareness in



schools, and the awareness week implemented more education to students in a study (American).
Schools already have drug awareness week, so they could have mental awareness in addition.
Making Mental Illness Awareness Week popular in school is an enjoyable way to educate kids
about mental health.
Educating young students can begin a trend to decrease the stigma of mental illness. The
journal, Educating Young People about Mental Health and Mental Illness: Evaluating a School Based Programme, discusses mental illness studies performed in schools. One test involved
educating 45 7high schoolers about mental illness. The results were mostly positive in the
evaluation of reducing the stigma towards mental illness (Rickwood). The test indicates reaching
out and educating students in school could be a step toward will reducing the stigma. By
changing the youth’s view of mental illness, the rest of society will most likely follow, and will
begin a trend.
Companies and work environments are the next place to target for informing about
mental illness. In Psychiatric Services, stigma of mental illness decreases life opportunities for
those with mental illness, including the workplace (Challenge). According to the article, people
with mental illness struggle, because they are viewed as incapable of working properly. By
educating employees and adults about the stigma in common places like work, the stigma can be
reduced especially towards those with mental illness in the work place. Seminars and education
classes held in companies can assist in increasing public awareness. Psychiatric Services also
states, educational approaches challenge the stigma and inform people of factual information
about mental illness (Challenge). Making it a requirement to attend educational meetings in the
workplace helps the workforce whenever it comes to mental illness. Educating workers makes
them more understand, and supports the employment of those with mental illness.



Advertisements and other public communication techniques, particularly social
media, can be used to educate about mental illness. Advertisements and other promotion styles
are effective in communicating to the public. For example, recent ads against drinking and
driving have decreased the amount of alcohol related car accidents (Effectiveness). Mass
production methods truly do capture the public’s attention and make a difference. Initiating
advertising campaigns about mental illness awareness is a way to begin educating the public. The
Huffington Post in Canada records, that anti- drug campaigns cost nearly 7 million dollars
(Cheadle). Although, it would cost a significant amount of money to do mental illness awareness
ads, they truly are effective in informing the public’s opinions. The National Alliance on Mental
Illness can invent National advertisements to put an end to the stigma towards mental illness.
Public Service Announcements (PSA) are another form of mass media to consider when
informing the publics about mental illness, According to All About Public Service
Announcements, PSA’s are regarded as positive and effective sources of information (ACEP).
PSA’s are used to communicate a message to the public, and are deemed as credible. They seem
to catch attention of their audience, and leave a successful impression. Otto Wahl believes, focus
on the image of mental illness in the mass media influenced people’s speculations about mental
illness (Wahl 343). If PSA’s or mass media are used to communicate informative messages about
mental illness, then people will better understand mental illness. By using Wahl’s findings, it can
be concluded that mass media does affect people’s views. Using a PSA can help educate the
public about mental illness and make them aware of the issues occurring.
Finally, social media and other forms of media can be used to communicate information
about mental illness. Using Wahl’s findings once again, he states, present claims about mental
illness are due to the media’s portrayal, and has resulted in a stigma towards mental illness (Wahl

343). Wahl believes the media has impacted the stigma about mental illness. Considering this,
media influences public outlook. Moving forward, by using mass media in an informative way,
the view on mental illness could be changed completely. Techniques such as entertainment
media, social media, and advertisements can impact the public’s view with regards to mental
illness. Using facts and information in media will reach out to the public, and help society
become aware of the truth on mental illness and assist in the elimination of the stigma.




Works Cited

"ACEP." All About Public Service Announcements //. American College of Emergency
Physicians. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
"American Journal of Preventive Medicine." - ELSEVIER. Web. 12 Apr.
Changing Middle Schoolers' Attitudes About Mental Illness Through Education. University of
Maryland School of Medicine. Web. 4 Mar. 2015.
Cheadle, Bruce. "Anti-Drug Ad Blitz Cost Taxpayers Millions." The Huffington Post. Web. 18
Apr. 2015.
Corrigan, Patrick, and Betsy Gelb. "Three Programs That Use Mass Approaches to Challenge the
Stigma of Mental Illness." : Psychiatric Services: Vol 57, No 3. Web. 7 Apr. 2015.
Evaluation of a Mental Illness Awareness Week program in public schools.
Battaglia, John; Coverdale, John H.; Bushong, Craig P. The American Journal of
Psychiatry, Vol 147(3), Mar 1990, 324-329.
"Mental Health Speaks –" Mental Health Speaks –
Web. 22 Apr. 2015.
"NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. Web.
12 Apr. 2015.

Samuel, Ebenezer. "Bears' Marshall Goes Green for Mental Health." NY Daily News. 10 Oct. 
2013. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
Wahl, Otto F. "Mass Media Images Of Mental Illness: A Review Of The Literature." Journal of
Community Psychology 20 (1992): 343-52. Print.
Rickwood, Debra, Sarah Cavanagh, Leigh Curtis, and Rebecca Sakrouge. "Educating Young
People about Mental Health and Mental Illness: Evaluating a School - Based
Programme." International Journal of Mental Health Promotion: 23-32. Print.