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PSAs created for emotionally distressed oil spill victims

January 28, 2011
by News release
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Rockville, Md. — The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in collaboration with the Ad Council has expanded efforts to provide information, support and resources to individuals and families affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Emotional distress resulting from traumatic events can surface years after an incident occurs.

“While the immediate crisis is over, many Gulf Coast residents continue to need support as they work to rebuild their lives after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. It is natural for some people to need help over time in dealing with the emotional trauma and distress experienced from such an event and associated losses,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, JD.

The campaign is designed to raise awareness of the early warning signs of serious emotional distress, and to provide access to free resources to those affected in the Gulf region. The television PSA, featuring Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, and other PSAs aim to help those living in the Gulf states get the assistance they may need to treat and alleviate long term psychological distress.

“For many who live on the Gulf Coast, this disaster has affected us very deeply,” said Dr. Benjamin. “We want anyone who is feeling distressed to know that getting help can be as simple as making a phone call or sending a text message.”

The new television, English and Spanish radio ads and outdoor public service advertisements (PSAs), were created by Grey New York, Clear Channel Creative Services Group and Lamar Advertising through the Ad Council.

The PSAs direct audiences to call toll-free at (800) 985-5990, or text TALKWITHUS to 66746 for a safe, confidential way to receive free counseling, information and support from trained professionals. (Standard text messaging and data rates apply.)

The toll-free Oil Spill Distress Helpline, funded by SAMHSA, links callers to local crisis centers, where local and trained professionals answer the calls and provide confidential assistance. Haitian Creole and Spanish-language operators are also available.

“We are proud to join the Surgeon General and SAMHSA for this critical campaign designed to provide essential mental health assistance for those families who have been affected by the Gulf oil spill,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “Media companies have committed to support these new PSAs in the affected region to raise awareness about the helpline for residents of the Gulf Coast.”

For more information on the campaign and resources, visit:

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