SAMHSA and Ad Council Launch New Ads to Offer Mental Health Services to Hurricane Survivors

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August 29, 2006 at 4:56 pm  •  Posted in Addictions by  •  0 Comments

Ads Coincide with One-Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Ad Council today launched a series of new national public service print and billboard ads to encourage individuals who may be experiencing psychological distress from last year’s hurricanes to seek mental health services. The Public Service Announcements (PSAs), the latest ads created for the Hurricane Mental Health Awareness Campaign, are being distributed to media outlets nationwide this week to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

The Hurricane Mental Health Awareness Campaign launched last fall is designed to help adults, children and first responders who have been affected by the hurricanes and who may be in need of mental health services. The public service ads reach out to adult hurricane survivors and first responders and to parents and caregivers who can assess their children’s emotional well-being. These public service ads are part of a larger effort by SAMHSA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to speed mental health recovery to persons affected by the hurricanes, to date, totaling nearly $110 million in mental health service grants.

Helping Survivors

“Most survivors of Katrina, Rita and Wilma are demonstrating remarkable resiliency and are rebuilding their lives,” said Assistant Surgeon General Eric Broderick, DDS, MPH, Acting Deputy Administrator of SAMHSA. “The new public service ads offer a doorway to help for survivors who are still struggling with the emotional toll of last year’s hurricanes.”

Research on the mental health consequences of disasters tells us that the psychological effects of last year’s hurricanes can be extensive and long-lasting. Individuals displaced by the storms lost their homes, schools, communities, places of worship, daily routines, social support, personal possessions and much more. In some cases, these losses were amplified by the loss of loved ones and the experience of destruction, pain and violence.

Catastrophic Events

Soon after a catastrophic event, some survivors may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including depression, grief and anger, or they may experience other behavioral or physical health problems. For other disaster survivors, some of these problems may not surface for years. As many as half of last year’s hurricane survivors have experienced symptoms of depression, and one in 10 have had symptoms of PTSD.

One year later, survivors continue to mourn their losses; some remain separated by the miles between them and families and friends. The one-year anniversary may trigger the reappearance of the same emotions survivors experienced immediately following the hurricanes.

The new print and outdoor advertising features close-up photographs of hurricane survivors’ faces, and say, “a year later, the hurricane isn’t over in the minds of many survivors.” The photos were taken by Clayton James Cubbitt, a native of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

The campaign also includes television and radio spots, available in English and Spanish, which are being redistributed at this one-year anniversary.

Public Service Announcements (PSAs)

All of the PSAs encourage audiences to take time to check in on how they and their families are doing and to call a confidential, toll-free number (1-800-789-2647) to speak with a trained professional who can help with information and referral to local services.

“Mental health experts and recent studies have revealed that hurricane victims continue to suffer from the devastating losses they experienced last year,” said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of The Advertising Council. “As we approach the first anniversary of the hurricanes, it is important to remind survivors that help is available. The new print and outdoor ads, created pro bono by Grey Worldwide, powerfully and beautifully convey this critical message.”

The PSAs are being distributed to media outlets nationwide via the FastChannel Network and will air in advertising time and space that will be donated by the media.

To view the ads, please visit www.samhsa.gov or www.adcouncil.org and click on the link on the homepages.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the lead Federal agency for improving the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment and mental health services in the United States. For more information about SAMHSA and its hurricane mental health response, go to www.samhsa.gov

The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit www.adcouncil.org.

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