Unlike many physical illnesses, mental illness is still one of the few illnesses that is still clouded with stigmas and often shame by the individuals and families dealing with a mental illness. Although there are great strides being made to decrease the stigma associated with illness, such as celebrities’ awareness campaigns and social media campaigns to begin a health dialogue on mental illness, the fact is mental illness stigma is still a barrier for many people to seek out effective treatment. The CHAS Foundation has embarked on several initiatives to combat the negative stereotype of mental illness and to let families know they are not alone.
Year after year, CHAS continues to create public awareness regarding the stigma surrounding mental illness. Someone should never, under any circumstance, feel ashamed about asking for help. Billboards were placed around the southside of Hampton Roads to help remind people they are not alone and that hope is just around the corner.
Hampton Roads Transit (HRT)
Starting in summer of 2017, The CHAS Foundation began partnering with the HRT to provide flyers/informational brochures in their trolleys and buses to target riders with both an Anti-Stigma Campaign and the Annual Fall Fundraiser that raises awareness for the need for more mental illness family support to the region.
October is the month for Mental Illness Awareness. In addition to having two dedicated special events (An 8K Walk/Run and a Fall Fundraiser/Auction), the CHAS Foundation will be expanding their billboard campaign to include additional regional locations. Messages will promote anti-stigma and the events that provide funding for programs and services to families affected by mental illness.
The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In May of 2016, The CHAS Foundation embarked on their first successful anti-stigma campaign. Unlike many physical conditions and/or diseases, individuals often hide their systems or mask emotional problems which leads to often failing to identify problems early on. Treatment by early mental illness diagnosis can many times increase the chances of recovery. Their message was blanketed across billboards throughout Norfolk to reach out to those who may be struggling with the acknowledgement of a mental illness. With the depiction of all types of shoes, the goal of the campaign was to show that mental illness can effect anyone and for individuals and families not to be ashamed to come forward to ask for help.
In a partnership with the local ABC Affiliate, 13 NEWS NOW, The CHAS Foundation produced and aired a Public Service Announcement in May, 2016 in conjunction with the billboard campaign. The video portrayed various individuals who suffer from mental illness and served as a catalyst to let individuals know that they are not alone and that there is hope for those struggling with mental illness.
The More You Know Spot
The More You Know is NBC Universal’s long-standing cross-company public service initiative focused on education, diversity, health, civic engagement and the environment. For more than 25 years, The More You Know has addressed the nation’s most pressing social issues and remains a trusted voice for sharing knowledge to improve lives. During the summer of 2016, The CHAS Foundation partnered with the local NBC Affiliate, WAVY TV 10 and Dan Banister, Managing Partner of Nissan, Chesapeake/Norfolk. The local PSA featured Executive Director Beau Kirkwood along with Dan Banister spotlighting Mental Health.