the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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Changing the Story about Mental Health in America

Today, in support of her Joining Forces initiative, the First Lady spoke at the launch of The Campaign to Change Direction, a nation-wide effort to raise awareness around mental health in America. Spearheaded by Give an Hour and co-sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the campaign is designed to change the story of mental health across the nation by urging all Americans to learn the five signs that someone might be in distress.

While there has been much media attention on mental health in the military and veteran community, it is incredibly important to understand that mental health isn’t just a military issue -- it is a human issue. Mental health conditions impact our children, our grandparents, and our neighbors. Every year, roughly one in five adults -- or more than 40 million Americans -- experience a diagnosable mental health condition like depression or anxiety.

It’s up to all of us to change the conversation by encouraging everyone to reach out when a friend, co-worker, veteran, or loved one might be struggling, and to ask for help when we need it for ourselves.  

As the First Lady said today at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.:

"It’s time to tell everyone who’s dealing with a mental health issue that they’re not alone, and that getting support and treatment isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. That’s something that my husband believes strongly as President. Because in this country, when you’re fighting an illness -- whether that’s mental or physical -- you should be able to get the help you need, end of story."

Rory Brosius is the Deputy Director of Joining Forces.