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Summer 2013, Volume 21, Number 3

Community Conversations Resources

Negative attitudes about mental illnesses are still prevalent: "Mental health problems don't affect me." "Mental health problems are caused by character flaws." "People with mental health problems are unpredictable and even violent."

Dispelling these and other myths about mental illness is one goal of the President's focus on increasing awareness and understanding of mental health. Fortunately, the initiative includes plenty of online and print resources to help start the conversation.

One key resource is a new website called This consumer-friendly site offers tools to help users learn mental health basics, warning signs, and tips on how to talk about mental health and get help. The site offers videos featuring both celebrities and ordinary Americans describing how mental illness has touched their lives.

SAMHSA is releasing a new toolkit to help communities hold discussions about mental health and mental illness. The first part of the Toolkit for Community Conversations About Mental Health, called the Information Brief, was released simultaneously to the White House National Conference on Mental Health. The Information Brief provides data and other facts helpful in creating conversations that break down misperceptions and promote recovery. The brief also covers topics such as the importance of early identification of problems, access to treatment, crisis response, and recovery supports.

The Toolkit for Community Conversations About Mental Health has two additional parts, an Planning Guide and a Discussion Guide. The Planning Guide will help communities plan the logistics of holding a community conversation and the Discussion Guide will help participants and facilitators engage in a productive discussion about mental health.

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