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Press Releases

New York City Seal
Press Release
NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
Office of Communications
CONTACT: Sandra Mullin/Kelly Sobel
Thursday, August 1, 2002
(212) 788-5290
(877) 640-1347


Campaign Running on Mass Transit Citywide

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) today announced a new public education campaign to help parents and caregivers recognize the signs of emotional problems in adolescents and seek help when needed. The campaign, "If Only the Signs Were This Easy to Read," is currently appearing on subways and telephone kiosks throughout the City in both English and Spanish, and urges parents and other adults who have concerns about a child's behavior to call LifeNet, the City's counseling and referral line at 1-800-LIFENET (1-800-543-3638) for information.

The campaign depicts adolescents who are physically wearing their signs of emotional distress - a girl wears a necklace that says "Depressed;" a boy wears an athletic jacket with "Feeling Worthless" written across the back - demonstrating some common feelings of emotionally distressed adolescents that are not so easily recognized. DOHMH has also developed a brochure that lists warning signs suggestive of emotional problems in adolescents, such as marked change in school performance, recurring nightmares, and persistent negative mood.

DOHMH Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. said, "Our new campaign reflects the reality that it is sometimes difficult to identify kids who are experiencing emotional distress. Moreover, young people often keep such feelings to themselves. It is particularly important to remember that our children may also still be dealing with the aftereffects of the World Trade Center disaster, and we want parents and caregivers to be better able to recognize the warning signs of emotional distress in adolescents, and how to get help."

DOHMH developed the campaign through a collaborative effort with several community groups. The Mental Health Association of New York City operates the City-funded LifeNet hotline, which is available in English, Spanish (1-877-AYUDESE), and Asian (1-877-990-8585) languages. Other languages are also available through a translator. DOHMH received generous pro bono assistance in developing this campaign from: Lois Rice, Marvin Waldman, Josh Rubin, and Craig Mannion.

This campaign is the third phase of the City's "Treatment Is Working" anti-stigma initiative launched in 1999 to highlight the importance of employment and treatment for persons with mental illness. In 2000, the second phase, focusing on senior citizens, featured the message "The Golden Years Don't Have to Be Blue."

For more information, call 1-800-LIFENET. For copies of the new campaign, call (212) 788-5290.