Dallastown students create PSA about mental illness

Katherine Ranzenberger

If you suffer from some sort of mental illness, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Southern Community Services want to make sure you know you're not alone.

Southern Community Services Director Cindy Richard, for York County Suicide Prevention, is shown outside of her office in Shrewsbury, Monday, May 2, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert  photo

The two groups have partnered with students and an alumnus of Dallastown Area High School to create a public service announcement about mental illness and how someone can get help. Starting Friday, the 30-second PSA will run before movies for eight weeks on 13 screens at Frank Theatres, 2067 Springwood Road in York Township.

"Two seniors at Dallastown worked to put this together," said Cindy Richard, director of Southern Community Services and the York County Suicide Prevention Coalition. "They put many, many hours into this. It turned out beautifully."

Richard said the timing of its premiere couldn't have been better, since May is National Mental Health Month.

"We're hoping it'll touch kids when they get out of school," she said. "We want to get people's attention. Hopefully the stats that come out of this will be positive."

Students and an alumnus of Dallastown High School created a public service announcement about mental illness and how someone can get help. Starting Friday, the 30-second PSA will run before movies for eight weeks on 13 screens at Frank Theaters. Submitted photo

Depression: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 17 percent of adults in the U.S. are considered to be in a state of optimal mental health. Depression is the most common type of mental illness, affecting more than 26 percent of adults in the U.S.

The CDC also found that suicide is No. 10 in leading causes of death among all age groups.

Philip Richard, a 2002 graduate of Dallastown and son of Cindy Richard, said even though he hasn't personally been affected by suicide, he still believes it's an important issue to discuss. He advised the students during their creation of the PSA after seeing how many people suicide affects through his mother's work.

"I offered to take it on because it's a priority," Philip Richard said. "The two Dallastown students were really interested and it resonated well with them. They're just as passionate about the project as I am."

PSA: The 30-second PSA features kids and young adults, bringing the focus to a younger audience, Cindy Richard said. However, it is meant to reach all ages.

"The end of the PSA has the information for SCS and NAMI," she said. "It gives people a chance to get the information down and know they're not alone."

Philip Richard said he hopes the short can help someone get the courage to take action with their mental health.

"If that PSA saves some lives through this process, that's rewarding in itself," he said.

Cindy Richard said she hopes people will reach out and get the help they may need after seeing the PSA.

"Mental illness isn't any different than a physical illness," she said. "Your head is attached to your body. Sometimes that physical illness could be affected by a mental illness. We treat the whole body."

Get help: If you or someone you know is in a crisis and needs immediate help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit the website at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Trained workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is confidential and toll-free.

People can also call NAMI York County at 717-848-3784 or the York County Suicide Prevention Coalition at 717-227-0048 for more information on how to get help in the area.

Reach Katherine Ranzenberger at kranzenberger@yorkdispatch.com.