A Series of PSAs Are Raising Awareness About Brain Illness

By Zachary Siegel 09/30/15

Mental Illness Awareness Week starts October 4.

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Mental health and advocacy group One Mind has released a series of public service announcements for Mental Illness Awareness Week, which runs Oct. 4-10.

One Mind’s goal with these announcements is to encourage the public to support funding of “open science, data sharing, and collaboration to find answers for brain illness.” Globally, roughly 3,000 suicides occur each day and some 61.5 million Americans experience a mental illness in a given year. Each 30-second PSA highlights the struggles of different kinds of people who need support.

The first video features Dr. Roxana Delgado, who is the primary caregiver for her husband Victor. In 2009, Victor sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) while deployed in Iraq. Ever since, she has been a vocal advocate for brain injury healthcare. In her segment, Delgado shares the emotional toll and totalizing nature of being a caregiver. But her message to other caregivers is, “never lose yourself.”

The second video features linebacker Riki Ellison, a 10-year NFL veteran. Ellison won three Super Bowls during his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers. Upon hearing of Junior Seau, a former middle linebacker who committed suicide, Ellison wrote a strongly worded opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times. In that piece he said, “[Seau’s] loss is the result of sustained concussions to the brain together with the inability to control depression.” In his segment, Ellison discusses his own struggle with depression and suicide, while advocating for players to be better taken care of.

The final video features Col (Ret.) Greg Gadson, who lost both his legs as well as sustained other injuries from a roadside bomb in Baghdad. Though the ex-colonel’s physical injuries are severe, he focuses on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the need for veterans to be cared for not only physically, but mentally. Gadson describes how he has relived the experience of that roadside blast, as well as the stigma associated with veterans asking for help. He urges veterans to seek help if they need it.

Oct. 8 is National Depression Screening Day, and World Mental Health Day is on Oct. 10.

Check out one of the PSAs here:

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Zachary Siegel is a freelance journalist specializing in science, health and drug policy. His reporting has also appeared in Slate, The Daily Beast, Salon, Huffington Post, among others. He writes often about addiction, sometimes drawing from his own experience. You can find out more about Zachary on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.