Inspiring People to Change

County campaigns to reduce the stigma of mental illness and prevent suicide are having an impact and getting recognition.

Reducing stigma of mental illness – it’s up to you and me. Preventing suicide – it’s also up to us.


It’s these simple messages that earned the County Health and Human Services Agency’s It’s Up to Us educational and awareness campaign an Inspiration Media Award from the National Association on Mental Illness San Diego (NAMI San Diego.) The honor will be presented during NAMI San Diego’s 8th Annual Inspiration Awards Dinner, October 7.

“We are much honored that the campaign is being recognized by NAMI,” said Karen Ventimiglia, It’s Up to Us campaign director. “I am pleased to be a part of this important program that is changing people’s beliefs and behaviors toward those with mental illness and providing much needed information about resources, suicide prevention and mental health challenges,” she said, adding that her father died by suicide decades ago.

It’s Up to Us is a multimedia campaign designed to empower San Diegans to talk openly about mental illness, recognize symptoms of suicide and mental health challenges, use local resources and seek help. It features radio and television commercials, billboards and other outdoor media, as well as print ads and the website: It’s Up to Us is funded by the state Mental Health Services Act.

“We are recognizing the It’s Up to Us campaign because of the positive impact it is having on the perception of mental illness in San Diego County,” said Annie Dunlop, NAMI San Diego’s Development and Events Manager. “We are proud to honor the It’s Up to Us campaign because it has connected families that are seeking education and support for themselves and their loved ones.”

The campaign has given San Diegans the opportunity to identify mental illness and connect with local mental health organizations such as NAMI San Diego, which has a threefold mission of education, support and advocacy.

One of the biggest barriers that keeps people from seeking help is the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Data from the first six months of the campaign indicates that San Diegans are now more likely to socialize and work closely with someone who has a mental illness.  It shows that people are talking about the campaign. 

“As San Diegans become more comfortable talking about mental health challenges – as comfortable as we are talking about diabetes or heart disease – San Diegans become healthier,” said Alfredo Aguirre, Health and Human Services Agency Mental Health Services Director. “People who need help will get help earlier with the support from their loved ones, family and friends.  After all, mental health is just as important as physical wellbeing.”