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First Lady Michelle Obama Featured in PSA for Change Direction; National Campaign Aims to Change the Culture of Mental Health in America

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Lauren Itzkowitz
(240) 533-1669

First Lady Michelle Obama Featured in PSA for Change Direction
National Campaign Aims to Change the Culture of Mental Health in America 

Washington, D.C. (May 8, 2015) – The Campaign to Change Direction, a national collective impact effort developed to change the culture of mental health in America, releases a Public Service Announcement (PSA) featuring First Lady Michelle Obama. 

Edelman, the nation’s largest public relations firm, created the PSA, which is currently running on the jumbotron in New York’s Times Square and can be viewed at A second Public Service Announcement featuring Dr. Jill Biden will also appear on the jumbotron starting next week. The two PSAs will alternate through the end of July.

The Campaign to Change Direction encourages Americans to care for their mental well-being just as they do their physical well-being. The campaign promotes the idea that just as we can all learn the signs that may indicate someone is having a heart attack, we can learn the signs that may mean someone is suffering emotionally and needs our help. The five signs of emotional suffering are: change in personality, agitation, withdrawal, decline in personal care, and hopelessness.

The support of the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden, whose Joining Forces initiative encourages communities to come together to honor and support military families, underscores the important contribution that military families are making to this critical conversation about mental health. Mrs. Obama notes that service members, 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.  

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 our understanding of mental health. 
“Teaching all Americans to recognize and respond to five signs of emotional suffering cannot, by itself, change the culture of mental health. But it is a huge step forward, and it is something that everyone can do. By creating a common language that we can all use to discuss what we see in ourselves and others, we can move conversations about mental health into the open, where they belong, around dinner tables, in classrooms, and at community centers,” says Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president of Give an Hour, the lead organization behind the Campaign to Change Direction.

Over 115 campaign partners have already pledged their support and made commitments to educate Americans about the five signs. These partner organizations are using their unique skills and opportunities to assist in this critical initiative to change the culture of mental health. Together this collective impact effort will reach over 30 million Americans over the next five years.  Organizations and individuals who are interested in learning more or making a pledge can visit


About Give an Hour™
Give an Hour a nonprofit 501(c)(3) providing free mental health services to military members, veterans, and their families, was founded in September 2005 by Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, a psychologist in the Washington, D.C., area. Give an Hour has been instrumental in the development of the community-based approach to address the challenges that face our nation's military community, having created a successful model for harnessing skill-based volunteers eager to offer their services. Thus far, the network of nearly 7,000 licensed mental health professionals have provided more than 155,000 hours of care and support to those in need. Give an Hour is now leading the Campaign to Change Direction, a collective impact effort developed to change the culture of mental health in America. Give an Hour and its partners will address common barriers to understanding mental health and raise awareness about the signs of emotional suffering. To learn more, visit or  To learn more about the Campaign to Change Direction, visit

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