Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen Takes Bold Action

Non-Obvious Idea in Action

At the Third Annual PathNorth Non-Obvious Idea Dinner, PathNorth Honorary Partner Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen presented a bold idea to change the way Americans approach the care of mental well-being. Two years later in 2015, she took her Non-Obvious Idea and launched the Campaign to Change Direction, a public health effort to encourage Americans to care for their mental well-being just as they do their physical well-being. 

We are excited to share the Non-Obvious Idea Dr. Van Dahlen put into action and cannot wait to see what this innovative change-maker will do next!


What is the Campaign to Change Direction?

Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen launched the Campaign to Change Direction to educate Americans about mental health and raise awareness about Five Signs that may indicate someone is suffering emotionally and needs help.

Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen launched the Campaign to Change Direction to educate Americans about mental health and raise awareness about Five Signs that may indicate someone is suffering emotionally and needs help.

Launched in 2015, the Campaign to Change Direction, a national initiative to change the culture of mental health in America, encourages Americans to care for their mental well-being just as they do their physical well-being. The Campaign is a public health effort led by Give an Hour, a national nonprofit organization providing free mental health services to the military and veteran community and other populations in need. Change Direction addresses common barriers to understanding mental health and raises awareness about Five Signs that may indicate someone is suffering emotionally and needs help: change in personality, agitation, withdrawal, decline in personal care, and hopelessness. In addition to educating everyone about the Five Signs of emotional suffering, the Campaign to Change Direction also encourages us all to practice the Healthy Habits of emotional well-being. Over 500 partner organizations are using their unique skills and opportunities to spread awareness. Organizations and individuals interested in learning more or making a pledge can visit www.changedirection.org

Articles

We Are Changing the Direction of Mental Health!
By Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D.

Since launching the Campaign to Change Direction in March 2015, I have often been asked why—and how—Give an Hour, a national nonprofit organization that provides free mental health care to those who serve, their families, and their communities, took on the challenge of changing the culture of mental health in America. The “why” part of this question is very simple. If we don’t change the broader culture around mental health—if we don’t recognize that our mental well-being is just as important as our physical well-being, if we don’t learn the signs that indicate that someone is in emotional pain and might be in danger—the men, women, and families who serve our country will continue to suffer and 22 veterans a day will continue to end their lives by suicide. 

Learn the Healthy Habits of Emotional Well-being!
By Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D.

There have been many excellent mental-health-focused public education efforts created and implemented over the years by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and other well respected mental health associations and organizations. These efforts have tended to focus on helping people understand mental health conditions, mental illness and available treatments.

There have also been compelling anti-stigma efforts designed to decrease the stigma associated with mental illness – including efforts championed by non profits such as Mental Health America (MHA), the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the National Council on Behavioral Health, Bring Change 2 Mind and Active Minds. All of these initiatives have contributed to the change in culture we seek – yet far too many people continue to suffer unnecessarily because of the shame and guilt they feel about emotional challenges they face.