Since the billboard message was posted a few weeks ago, APA has been conducting an intensive information campaign to set the record straight about the link between mental illness and violence and to urge Mr. Cole to remove the stigmatizing message.
“You are absolutely correct that many Americans with mental health issues don’t get the help they need,” the organizations wrote in a letter to Mr. Cole today. “Only 38 percent of adults with mental illness receive treatment. The right answer is to get people treatment, not to marginalize them. Stigma about mental health is one of the biggest barriers preventing people from seeking care, and your billboard unfortunately adds to that stigma.”
Earlier this week, APA Communications Chief Jason Young was told by a spokesperson for Mr. Cole’s company that the billboard message would be replaced only “as normally scheduled.”
APA’s campaign has included a steady stream of messages aimed at Mr. Cole on Twitter under the hashtag of #givestigmatheboot, and more than 100,000 people have seen the messages, including Mr. Cole. In one tweet, he responded: “Intention was to highlight inadequate access to Mental HealthCare & over access to guns- for all.”
APA members who would like to participate in the campaign are urged to join the conversation on Twitter at #GIVESTIGMATHEBOOT.