County Launches Massive Campaign to Fight Stigma and Discrimination Against Mental Illness

More than 750,000 San Diegans suffer from a mental illness. That’s enough people to fill Qualcomm Stadium 10 times! One in four adults and one in five children suffer from mental illness in San Diego County. Unfortunately, the stigma associated with mental illness keeps many people from seeking treatment and from beginning the road to recovery.

The five-year, $8.4 million prevention and education campaign called “It’s Up to Us,” launched September 13 by the HHSA Behavioral Health Services division, aims to encourage San Diegans to get help, whether they have postpartum depression after having child, post traumatic stress disorder from combat, general anxiety or more serious disorders. The campaign’s goal is to get people to talk openly about mental illness and to seek help because recovery is possible.

You may have already seem campaign messages that have begun to appear on television, radio, newspapers, Internet, billboards, movie theaters, bus shelters and buses. Messages are produced in both English and Spanish, and geared to change the way people with a mental illness are viewed or view themselves. The campaign is funded by the Mental Health Services Act—Proposition 63, a millionaire’s tax which was approved by voters in 2004. The Act directs funding toward six components to help bolster mental health care in California, including prevention, training, and innovations.

To learn more, visit The “It’s Up to Us” Web site at or is available in Spanish. The site provides information, resources, and referral to the County’s 24/7 Access and Crisis Line: (800) 479-3339.

A specialized segment of the campaign addresses educating physical health doctors, to help them help their patients with mental illness, and includes an ambassador program. Behavioral Health Services’ Clinical Director, Dr. Marshall Lewis, published an article to support the campaign in the August, 2010 issue of San Diego Physician (p46), which also runs a full-page ad. For more information: