Pinehurst, N.C. – Mecklenburg County Area Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Developmental Disability Services was recently recognized with a Programs of Excellence Award for Public Awareness and Advocacy for its Ask Me How I Am Campaign.
The award was presented by the North Carolina Council of Community Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Programs on December 3, 2009, at their annual conference in Pinehurst, N.C.
Youth risk behavior survey data indicated that one in eight youth attempted suicide in Charlotte-Mecklenburg in 2007. Area Mental Health partnered with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and multiple youth groups to introduce a stigma-busting campaign to engage the public and to raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of teen depression and suicide. An additional goal of the campaign was to raise awareness about Mecklenburg County's System of Care, MeckCARES, and point youth and families to local resources.
The campaign concept and its message was guided by youth, tested by youth, and often distributed by youth. The posters, flyers and digital ads feature photos of diverse local teens challenging adults and peers to "Ask Me How I Am." The campaign materials list the Area Mental Health call center, MeckLINK, as the local resource for mental health services. Calls into MeckLINK spiked when the campaign was launched, and the print pieces were distributed through Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation, local libraries, malls, movie theaters and online. Because of the overall success of the campaign, Area Mental Health and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools plan to redistribute the posters and flyers in April 2010.
Luigui Harmon, a youth who accepted the award on behalf of Mecklenburg County Area Mental Health, says her involvement in this campaign made her realize that she was helping "change the lives of my friends and peers and people I may never even meet."
Each year, the North Carolina Council of Community Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse (MH/DD/SA) Programs seeks to identify innovative and effective community programs that have been instrumental in serving people with disabilities in North Carolina. Winners are selected by a committee that includes directors and board members of area authorities for MH/DD/SA services.
In addition to being honored by the North Carolina Council of Community Programs, the Ask Me How I Am campaign has been recognized by the National Association of County Information Officers and by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Excellence in Communications and Community Outreach (ECCO) Awards.
MeckCARES is the system of care partnership among local child-serving agencies, families and the community. Its purpose is to improve the lives of youth ages 10 to 21 with emotional challenges and their families. MeckCARES adopts a unified approach across provider organizations. By enrolling in MeckCARES, families participate as equal partners in the planning, delivery and evaluation of services. For more information, call MeckCARES at (704) 432-4593 or go to http://meckcares.charmeck.org.
Mecklenburg County Area Mental Health manages the public mental health system in Mecklenburg County, which includes screening, assessing and referring consumers to appropriate service providers in the community. For help and information, contact the Area Mental Health call center, MeckLINK, at (704) 336-6404 or visit http://mecklink.charmeck.org. Referrals are made in English and Spanish.
Caption: Local youth advocate Luigui Harmon, left, accepted the award on behalf of the County on Dec. 3, 2009, in Pinehurst. Area Mental Health Director Grayce Crockett is at right