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New Campaign Urges Californians To ‘Take Action’ For Friends And Family Struggling With Their Mental Health

A screenshot from the "Take Action for Mental Health" website reads "Check In," "Learn More," and "Get Support." Artwork depicts two people standing next to each other and talking.
A screenshot from the "Take Action for Mental Health" website.
(Courtesy CalMHSA)
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A coalition of county behavioral health leaders throughout the state launched a new campaign Wednesday that calls on Californians to reach out to friends and family members struggling with their mental health.

“Take Action for Mental Health,” a project of the California Mental Health Services Authority, includes information on how to recognize warning signs that someone may have thoughts of suicide as well as guidance on starting a conversation about mental health with family or friends.

The campaign’s organizers say the updated messaging that encourages people to step in when they think someone might be suffering is the logical next step in efforts to de-stigmatize mental health and mental illness.

“Twenty years ago, people didn’t even really talk about being stressed ... the way we talk about it now,” said CalMHSA Program Director Jeremy Wilson.

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He said that working as a mental health professional in schools and elsewhere he’s seen advocates achieve some success in recent years in changing the conversation about mental health.

“They changed the norms so there is this younger generation [for whom] it is more common, it is more comfortable [to talk about mental health],” Wilson said.

The campaign’s website includes guidance on how to know if it’s time to get professional help, how to recognize the signs of a mental health crisis, and a page that includes local and national resources for getting help as soon as possible.

Questions remain, however, as to how readily available support will be for people who do seek help.

L.A. County mental health officials say they’re working with about half the beds they need, although new facilities are coming online.

And experts say a variety of obstacles stand in the way of those seeking mental health support, including a shortage of therapists, especially therapists of color, a lack of awareness among primary care doctors about available services, and hard-to-navigate websites.

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