The Iowa Department of Human Services has joined a national effort to try to remove the stigma of mental illness among young people. D.H.S. director Kevin Concannon says the campaign targets 18 to 25-year-olds — an age group where cases of serious mental health conditions is higher than the general population.
Concannon says the campaign’s message will not only be aimed at those in need of treatment, but at their friends, as well. "It has been shown in many, many studies that friendship and acceptance by your peers is one of the major helps to people in recovery,’ Concannon says. Concannon uses the example of his oldest brother, who suffered from a serious mental illness while in college, but got through it with help from his friends.
Concannon says,"My brother’s friends from high school came to go bowling with him, came to take him out to eat, maintained those friendships. And I think that’s the very essence of what we’re trying to communicate in terms of the anti-stigma campaign and the targeting of young people."
Concannon says the campaign will attempt to show that it’s O.K. to receive treatment for mental illness. Concannon calls the campaign the top priority of the recently restored Mental Health and Disability Services division of his department. The division was dissolved in 2002 because of a budget crunch, but was reinstated last year.