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SD Campaign Seeks To Help Residents With Mental Illness

— The county of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency today launched an $8.4 million campaign to encourage residents to seek treatment for mental illness.

The five-year campaign, called "It's Up to Us," will include messages on television, radio, newspapers, the Internet, billboards, movie theaters, bus shelters and buses -- in both English and Spanish.

The concept is to reduce the stigma of mental illness and get sufferers to seek help.

The public relations firm that developed the campaign, Ad Ease, determined that one in four area adults and one in five children suffer from mental illness ranging from depression to schizophrenia, said Jose A. Alvarez of the HHSA.

"It is shocking that we have so many people suffering from mental illness here in San Diego County, when statistics show 80 percent of those who seek treatment early have a chance of leading a very productive life," said Pam Slater-Price, the chairwoman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

The campaign is funded by the Mental Health Services Act, a measure passed by state voters in 2004 to impose additional taxes on millionaires.

The survey conducted by Ad Ease found that 45 percent of San Diegans said they would be afraid to tell someone else of a mental disorder. Also, 48 percent of people believe that a person with a mental illness is dangerous.

The county operates a crisis line at (800) 479-3339, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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