"Dawson's Creek" Links With NAMI To Educate Youth on Mental Illness
May 21 1999
Arlington, VA. - Dawson's Desktop, the interactive Internet version of Warner Brothers' popular television drama "Dawson's Creek" has linked with the Web site of the National Alliance for the Mentally (NAMI)-the nation's largest grassroots organization dedicated to helping people with severe mental illness-to educate teenagers and young adults about biologically-based brain disorders.
The Dawson's Creek website, http://www.dawsonscreek.com, produced by Columbia TriStar Interactive, receives about 1.5 million "hits" per week. The show has an audience of an estimated 5.4 million people (Wednesdays at 8 P.M. on the WB Network) and is the highest-rated television show among female teens.
"Dawson's Creek's characters and fans are in the age group in which mental illnesses often surface for the very first time," said NAMI Executive Director Laurie Flynn. "It is important for them to have access to the facts about mental illness, including the nature and symptoms of disorders, and how to get help."
"The most important thing for them to know is that treatment works," Flynn noted. "There is help available. There is hope for the future."
One out of every five American families is affected in their lifetime by mental illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. An estimated 7.5 million youth under age 18 suffer from mental, behavioral or developmental disorders, but only 20 percent of those who need treatment receive it.
Dawson's Creek's linkage with NAMI's Web site arises out of the show's May 12th and May 19th episodes in which "Andie," the girlfriend of one of the principal characters, "Pacey," suffered from mood swings and anxiety--and began to see and talk with the specter of her dead brother. Beginning a plot line that will continue into the Fall 1999 season, Pacey reassured Andie that her family and friends would help her to get the right doctors and medication, and that ultimately, she would recover. Knowing that her condition is worsening, Andie, chose to leave Dawson's Creek with her father to seek treatment for what her father called "a medical problem."
"The show's treatment of mental illness has been right on target, presented in an intelligent and sensitive way," Flynn said. "We thank Dawson's Creek for helping to eliminate some of the misinformation and stigma that surround brain disorders. We also hope that the character of Andie will be seen next season as inspiration for teenagers who struggle with mental illness in real life."