By Theresa Walker
Orange County Register
November 5, 2020
A new public service campaign in Orange County to take the stigma out of seeking help for mental health issues and substance abuse disorders will target middle-aged men, youth, and the LGBTQ community — high-risk groups that might be even more emotionally vulnerable under the stress of the pandemic.
County health officials unveiled the $2.4 million “Stigma Free OC” effort at a news conference Thursday, Nov. 5, and spoke about the need to raise awareness of resources and remove self-imposed barriers to seeking help. Members of the public are asked to join a pledge of support that already has 1,300 signatures.
While they presented no recent statistics to show increased suicide rates tied to the economic distress, social isolation and other pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Orange County health officials said their concerns are based on past studies and they hope to head off any surge that could be underway or in the making.
The three parts of the campaign each has a website. Here’s where to find more information and specifics:
- Stigma Free OC, whose message is “See the person not the condition,” at stigmafreeoc.com
- Help is Here, focused on middle-age men, at helpishereoc.com
- Be A Friend for Life, youth suicide prevention, at beafriendforlife.com
The pandemic has fueled a jump in calls to Orange County’s WarmLine, a free phone service for people dealing with non-emergency mental and behavioral health issues, and to Teen Line, a Los Angeles-based teen crisis hotline that serves Southern California and beyond.
The initiative, paid for in large part with money from the county’s share of federal CARES Act dollars, will involve placing PSA’s on billboards, radio and TV, social media, and news publications, along with highlighting websites specific to the different parts of the campaign.