Give an Hour launched the “Change Direction” campaign at a groundbreaking summit on mental health today in Washington, D.C. First Lady Michelle Obama keynoted the event attended by government, business, and nonprofit leaders. “Change Direction” encourages Americans to care for their mental well-being just as they do their physical well-being by recognizing the signs of emotional suffering. The initiative asks everyone to make a simple pledge to learn the five signs: withdrawal, agitation, hopelessness, decline in personal care, and change in personality. First Lady Michelle Obama, whose Joining Forces initiative encourages communities to come together to honor and support our military families, spoke about the important contribution that our military families are making to this critical conversation. Mrs. Obama noted that our service members, our veterans and their family members have been stepping up to change the story about mental health by telling their own stories and inspiring others to seek the help they deserve. And she reinforced the value for all Americans of learning how to recognize indicators of distress in those we love. “Give an Hour is proud to lead this collective impact effort of partners from every sector of society as we change the direction of mental health in our nation. By creating a shared mission, by educating Americans about the five signs of emotional suffering, by encouraging compassion and action, we can change our culture to reflect what we know to be true—that mental health is not something to be afraid of or embarrassed about,” said Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president of Give an Hour. Featured speaker and Academy Award-winning producer of “Silver Linings Playbook” Bruce Cohen addressed the importance of paying attention to our mental well-being and advocated learning the signs of emotional suffering as the key to increased awareness. The event concluded with a performance by G.R.L., an all-girl group that was touched by tragedy when one of the members, Simone Battle, committed suicide in September 2014. “Change Direction” calls on all Americans—whether living in a big city or a rural community, working in a large corporation or a small nonprofit, attending school at a college or university, or serving in our armed forces—to learn the five signs and help change the story about mental health across our nation. Over 50 campaign partners have already pledged their support and made commitments to deliver information about the five signs as well as additional educational tools and programs that will collectively reach over 30 million Americans over the next five years. “The time has come for us to not only bring the conversation about mental illness out of the shadows, but to realize that maintaining mental health and wellness is a challenging, beautiful and essential component of the experience of human life,” said Don Weber, Founder and CEO of Logistics Health Incorporated, founding partner of Change Direction. “As employers, this shift in our collective understanding of these issues will have a direct effect on employee retention efforts, employer health care costs and the bottom line for business.” Following the national launch, “Change Direction” will continue developing partnerships and collecting pledges while also launching at the local community level, beginning with an event in La Crosse, Wisc., on March 23, 2015. To learn more or to make a pledge to Change Direction, visit www.changedirection.org.
This article first appeared PRNewswire, 4 March 2015.