Helping Children Cope with Anxiety Disorder, Mental Illness Awareness Week

COLUMBUS, Ohio – October 7-13, 2012 marks National Mental Illness Awareness Week. Mental Health America of Franklin County (MHAFC) is commemorating the week by conducting free screenings in partnership with Walgreens and launching a new phase of its Anti-Stigma campaign.

Mental Illness Awareness Week was established by the United States Congress in 1990. Now in its 22nd year, the effort is as important as ever. “Mental health issues affect one in four individuals, yet only 16% of those who struggle will actually seek support,” explained Laura Moskow Sigal, MHAFC’s Executive Director for nearly 25 years. “It is important to remember that the brain is an organ—just like our hearts, our kidneys, our lungs. If something is wrong with those, we see a doctor immediately. But there is a stigma attached to doing the same when we are facing a chemical imbalance, depression, schizophrenia or a number of mental health challenges. We’re here to help our entire community see beyond the stigma and to ensure that everyone who needs help gets it.”

On Thursday, October 11, volunteers will conduct free, confidential depression screenings at two Walgreens Pharmacy locations: 2150 E. Dublin Granville Road and 1162 Harrisburg Pike. The volunteers have been trained by MHAFC and represent either licensed mental health professionals or Masters-level Social Work students from The Ohio State University. In addition to in-person screenings, MHAFC offers confidential on-line screening tools for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The questionnaires can be found on MHAFC’s website: www.mhafc.org.

To further drive the point home, MHAFC has launched an anti-stigma campaign in partnership with marketing firm GSW Worldwide, The Columbus Dispatch and Clear Channel media. The most recent addition will be six billboards featuring individuals from all walks of life. The images will challenge passers-by to see beyond the diagnosis using the campaign’s tagline: “The only thing crazy about mental illness is the way we talk about it.” Similar messages are being crafted for radio and television while the images, also published recently by The Columbus Dispatch, can be viewed on MHAFC’s website: www.mhafc.org.

Making Mental Illness Awareness more than a week, MHAFC will host its 2012 Children’s Mental Health Conference in late October. An all-day Professional Conference focused on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety Spectrum Disorders will be held at on Monday, October 29 with visiting presenters Dr. Amy Przeworski and Dr. Rebecca Hazen of Case Western Reserve University. An evening program, designed for parents and caregivers of children facing anxiety and OCD, will also be held on the 29th from 7 – 9 pm. Both programs offer Continuing Education Credits for clinicians and mental health professionals. Tickets may be purchased on the organization’s website or by calling 614-221-1441.

Founded in 1956, Mental Health America of Franklin County is dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental disorders and raising awareness and understanding of mental health issues through advocacy, education and support services in our community.

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Contact information:

Laura Moskow Sigal, Executive Director
Lmsigal@mhafc.org
614-221-1441 x101 (o)
614-975-9612 (c)

Jen Patterson, Development & Marketing Director
jpatterson@mhafc.org
614-221-1441 x105 (o)