FLINN FOUNDATION CONTACT: John O’Donnell, 248 496 0029, john1719@gmail.com

MDHHS CONTACT: Angela Minicuci, 517-241-2112, minicucia@michigan.gov

DETROIT, MI

“OPENING MINDS, ENDING STIGMA: Campus Challenges”

New TV Special and Public Service Announcements starring young people to raise awareness about mental health and seeking help

There’s a mental health crisis facing college students. One in five young people between the ages of 14 to 24 will experience mental illness. Left untreated, it can cause bigger problems later on.

With September being Suicide Prevention Month and many victims – particularly young people experiencing mental health disorders, the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) have teamed up to change the conversation about mental health as they broadcast “Opening Minds Ending Stigma: Campus Challenges.”

The “Opening Minds Ending Stigma: Campus Challenges” special will premiere Saturday, Sept 23, 7:30 p.m. on WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids and Sunday, Sept. 24 at 11:30 a.m. on WXYZ-TV in Detroit.

The special is part of a statewide campaign that also includes new PSAs targeting young people and college students and letting them know it is ok to talk about mental health and to seek help.

The 30-minute program features inspiring and candid stories of college students and their families impacted by mental illness, illuminates the challenges presented by mental health conditions, the stigma that often delays effective treatment, and that recovery is possible. Also discussed is the rising suicide rate among young people on campus. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students.

A new statewide initiative to improve student mental health and suicide prevention efforts on Michigan college campuses is also highlighted in the special. The Ethel and James Flinn Foundation, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Children’s Hospital of Michigan are partnering with the JED Foundation to bring the JED Campus Program to 13 Michigan colleges this fall.

Leading Michigan-based experts in healthcare, education, parent/child relationships and peer support programs also appear in the “Opening Minds, Ending Stigma: Campus Challenges” special to help bring greater understanding of the importance of early intervention and treatment.

“Treating mental illness shouldn’t be viewed any differently than treating physical illnesses,” said Andrea Cole, CEO of the Ethel and James Flinn Foundation. “Young people go through many changes during the college years. It’s an exciting time but can be a difficult time for many. Telling young people it is ok to ask for help is critical.”

Lynda Zeller, Deputy Director of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said “Removing stigma is an absolutely critical piece for getting young people into treatment and support much earlier. Mental health treatment is much more successful when conditions are identified early and when people are supported in getting the help they need.”

Following the September broadcast premiere, the “Opening Minds, Ending Stigma: Campus Challenges” video may be accessed without charge for educational and community use at www.endingstigma.org. Other resources to continue the conversation includes an on-going web and social media campaign.

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The Ethel and James Flinn Foundation is a Detroit-based private grant-making organization with a mission to improve the quality, scope and delivery of mental health services for people in Michigan. For more information, visit www.flinnfoundation.org.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provides opportunities, services, and programs that promote a healthy, safe, and stable environment for residents to be self-sufficient. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/mdhhs

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