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NASW joins "The Campaign to Change Direction" to change the way U.S. addresses mental health

National campaign launches at summit featuring government, business and non-profit leaders

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) today announced their involvement with "The Campaign to Change Direction," a national initiative to create a new story in America about mental health, mental illness and mental wellness.

As part of the collective effort led by Give an Hour, NASW joined 50 other campaign partners in this effort with its pledge to share the five signs a person may be living with a mental illness with more than 100,000 members of the social work profession and the general public through its various social media, on its main website, and its consumer website

Inspired by discussions at the White House National Conference on Mental Health in 2013, "Change Direction" is a response to the way society addresses mental health. One in five Americans each year experiences a diagnosable mental health condition, and it is expected that more Americans will die by suicide than in car accidents this year.

"NASW is proud to join ‘The Campaign to Change Direction’ and the association and social workers are committed to ending the stigma surrounding mental illness and making open, authentic discussion of mental illness the new normal within our society," NASW CEO Angelo McClain, Ph.D., LICSW said. "Through our campaign pledge, we will share information with our members and the public about five signs of emotional suffering, including withdrawal, agitation, hopelessness and decline in personal care and change in personality."

The campaign launched at a mental health summit at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. on March 4, which included a keynote address from First Lady Michelle Obama, an appearance by Academy Award-winning producer of "Silver Linings Playbook," Brue Cohen, and a performance by G.R.L., a musical girl group that was personally touched by the issue when their lead singer, Simone Battle, committed suicide in September 2014.

McClain also took part in a panel discussion at the summit on how associations are taking up the challenge to educate the public about mental health. The other panelists were Saul Levin, MD, MPA, CEO and medical director of the American Psychiatric Association, and Norman Anderson, Ph.D., CEO and executive vice president of the American Psychological Association.

"Give an Hour is proud to lead this collective impact effort of partners from every sector of society as we change the direction of mental health in our nation. By creating a shared mission, by educating Americans about the five signs of emotional suffering, by encouraging compassion and action, we can change our culture to reflect what we know to be true—that mental health is not something to be afraid of or embarrassed about," said Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, founder and president of Give an Hour.

NASW encourages individuals and other organizations to "help change the direction" of mental health in our country and let your voices be heard by joining us in making a pledge, however large or small. The simplest pledge is one that anyone can do: Learn the five signs of emotional suffering so you can recognize them in yourself or help a loved one or a friend who may be in emotional pain. To learn more or to make a pledge to Change Direction, visit

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The Campaign to Change Direction initiative is a collection of concerned citizens, nonprofit leaders, and leaders from the private sector who have come together to create a new story in America about mental health, mental illness, and wellness. This initiative was inspired by the discussion at the White House National Conference on Mental Health in 2013, which came on the heels of the Newtown tragedy.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers with 130,000 members. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.