Depression affects about 19 million people in the United States every year. College students are especially at risk, with half reporting that they have been so stressed that they couldn’t function during the past year. The impact of mental illness is so devastating that suicide is the third-leading cause of death among all people ages 15 to 24.
Half of Us is dedicated to raising awareness of this problem, decreasing the stigma around mental health and encouraging students to seek help if they need it. Launched by mtvU and The Jed Foundation in 2006, the campaign includes a powerful interactive website as well as on-air programming that shines a light on the realities of mental health and helps young people understand that they’re not alone in their struggles.
The campaign’s hub at halfofus.com informs and engages students while incorporating their ideas and experiences. Its unique offerings — including school-specific and national resources, an anonymous screening tool for a range of emotional disorders and a variety of real stories from celebrities and students — provide a safe space for students struggling with emotional issues or seeking to help a friend. The screening tool, which provides customized feedback, has been used by over 160,000 students.
Half of Us PSAs have run more than 30,000 times on mtvU, most recently with a focus on the impact of bad breakups. Its message has also been integrated into MTV programming, including Jersey Shore, 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, The Real World and Demi Lovato: Stay Strong, helping increase traffic on the website by nearly 600 percent.
“I know my lowest point; I was on the My Life album. That was the darkest, darkest point of my life…I really got tired of living…I was ready to kill myself because I hated the way I looked, I hated the sound of my voice, I hated everything about me.
A lot of us don’t get a second chance or get a chance to talk about it this late in life. If you’re a teenager, or however old you are, right now, talk about it. Go to somebody and speak about it. Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not beautiful, you’re not smart, you’re not strong, you’re not powerful, you’re not influential.”
Mary J. Blige
“It’s really difficult to have a problem and know that you can get help, but not take it and just furthermore damage your spirit and your way of living and the people around you. It actually hurts the people around you sometimes more than it does you. So, I would say, get the help if you can get it.”