SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--United Advocates for Children and Families (UACF) announced today a major breakthrough in its efforts to reach and educate Californians about mental illness, correct misperceptions about the disease and reduce stigma and discrimination against those who experience mental disorders. Following extensive outreach to nearly every major California daily and community newspaper, 15 papers agreed to run what is believed to be the very first syndicated column in California on mental health. The series of articles carried under the title, “Let’s Talk Mental Health,” is authored by UACF CEO Oscar Wright, Ph.D. It is designed to inform, educate and equip parents and families to recognize, understand and cope with mental illness at home, in the workplace, schools, juvenile justice and mental health systems.
“While UACF has been educating and advising its member families for years, we hope the commitment of newspapers to these educational articles will encourage more families to seek help, expand access to better care and prompt more people to embrace mental health in the same manner as physical health.”
“For too long, open and frank dialogue about mental illness has been cast aside because people were either too fearful of being ridiculed and labeled as “crazy” or ignored the subject because it was someone else’s problem and not their own,” said Wright. “While UACF has been educating and advising its member families for years, we hope the commitment of newspapers to these educational articles will encourage more families to seek help, expand access to better care and prompt more people to embrace mental health in the same manner as physical health.”
UACF has received nothing but positive comments about the column since papers started printing and posting the articles online this past fall. The column includes a firstname.lastname@example.org feedback loop to encourage dialogue and discussion about the articles’ contents, which include tips, key insights and straight facts to dispel myths about mental illness and encourage healthier minds. So far, interest in the pieces in print and on the Internet has expanded to include readers from 37 of the state’s 58 counties.
In the wake of the tragic Connecticut school massacre and other senseless shootings, UACF believes there is no better time than now to begin education about mental illness and the enormous resources that are available. “Our mental health column is but one of several new campaigns being launched by UACF in 2013 under the banner of EPIC – Empower Parents, Invest in Children – a signature initiative of UACF that educates and empowers parents in California,” added Wright.
It is estimated that in California, more than one million kids and teens will be diagnosed with a mental illness this year, and 600,000 will not receive appropriate treatment. In the past two decades, UACF has effectively orchestrated both national and statewide programs to transform the systems of care to be responsive to the needs of children and youth with emotional, behavioral and mental health disorders in a family-driven and youth-guided manner.
“The importance of articulating our passion for helping a very diverse parent population in need cannot be underestimated,” says UACF Board President Tina Mata. “From the far corners of our state, Let’s Talk Mental Health has already educated and inspired countless families, and we’re fortunate that UACF’s unique vantage point and its mission adequately represents and touches the lives of parents and kids dealing with mental health challenges. They need to know they are not alone.”
UACF is a nonprofit statewide organization that provides support to parents, families, children and youth experiencing mental health challenges. Visit UACF at www.uacf4hope.org.