WASHINGTON—First lady Michelle Obama said Wednesday mental health is not only a budget and policy problem, it’s also a cultural one.
“At the root of this dilemma is the way we view mental health in this country,” Obama said. “Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness, and there should be no distinction.”
The campaign to “Change Direction” initiative is a new national movement about mental health, mental illness, and wellness.
Inspired by a discussion at the White House National Conference on Mental Health in 2013, the campaign is supported by a collection of nonprofit leaders, concerned citizens and private sector decision -makers. The campaign aims to provide services to veterans and other populations suffering from the disease.
“It’s time to pay attention to our mental well-being,” said Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president of Give an Hour, a national nonprofit dedicated to developing networks of volunteers who provide direct mental health counseling services.
Fifty organizations across multiple industries and sectors have pledged to support the campaign, with a goal of reaching 30 million Americans in the next five years.
One in five of American citizens has a diagnosable mental health condition, according to a 2013 national survey by the Department of Health and Human Services.