May 14, 2015

By Katrina Gay

Like ripples expanding across the water when an object is dropped into it, it is a spreading effect, a series of happenings caused by one original, single action.

A ripple effect we like to call The NAMI Effect

What do we want America to know about mental health? About NAMI? If we had to capture NAMI’s essence, what would we say?

In other words, what is our story, and how do we tell it in 15 seconds?

This is where we began the process last year of developing the new NAMI TV Public Service Announcement (PSA) creative process that led to our new PSA, Hope Starts With You. Led by the brilliant team at 31,000 feet who donated the treasures of their time and talent, we began to define our place and, as their mission attests, how we make the world a little better through defining ourselves.

Some say mental illness is both an illness like any other and an illness unlike any other. As NAMI, we have the lived experience and know that we are a community that gives back to others who may be struggling to understand, to heal, much as we are and have been. We are a lifeline, a resource for caretakers and friends as well as people who have mental illness.

We educate, advocate, listen and lead. We are trusted friends, guides and mentors who understand and have the experience of our lived experience to offer to others who are encountering the challenges of these conditions.

When we thought of idea for the PSA, we started and ended with truly who we are: people. People who care and who show up, without expectation, to offer help and assistance, to give hope.

Set for outdoor filming in Dallas in late March, we called on our local north Texas NAMI Affiliates and other friends to serve as extras in the all-day shoot. Despite unexpected snow and ice, more than 100 people showed up. No complaints were heard, they were simply there to help. The ripple effect that started the previous year was in full display.

31,000 feet’s creative director Carter Keith and his entire staff, director Jeff Bednarz, the team at Lucky 21 and a team of creative talent along with neighbors and friends came together to ensure success.

The behind the scenes video tells the story behind the story, and the comments of some of the 100 are worthy of call outs capture the essence of Hope Starts With You:

“It is touching and heartfelt to be a part of this. We are [here and are] reaching out so that you don’t have to be ashamed of what you’re going through. There are a lot of us. We have to be heartfelt enough to reach out to someone else, to help them get better, to let the people around the world see that there are people out there that care.”

“If you come together and you volunteer, you become more visible, and mental illness becomes more visible. It becomes more accepting.”

“It is important for me for people to know about mental illness. That it is not discriminating, it affects all families; nobody asks for it. [Being here] is a way for me to support the people in my family, my son especially.”

“There was a real rapport. Even though we are strangers, when we came together, we knew we were going to make a difference.

The NAMI effect is who we are. And through the new PSA, we aspire to encourage a ripple of what we know to be true. Hope really does start with you!

The NAMI Hope Starts With You TV-PSA is set to launch before the end of May, in recognition of Mental Health Month, to help us raise awareness about NAMI, shift public attitudes, promote understanding and send a message. The complete package will include 5 segments. Three, Brighter Day, will be 60-, 30- and 15-second PSAs focusing on depression. “Peace and Quiet” is available in 30 and 60-second spots and focuses on people reaching out to help an individual living with schizophrenia. Watch the 60-second “Brighter Day” now.

In later May 2015, each TV-PSA will be available in a package and as a digital download so that stations can make decisions about which spot they would like to use.

Those interested in learning more about the PSA are encouraged to contact us online through our online contact form or at [email protected] and put *PSA* in the subject line

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NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).