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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/22/2012

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Half of Us
District of Columbia

Start Date

Brief Description
Half of Us is an awareness campaign launched by mtvU and The Jed Foundation in November 2006 to initiate a public dialogue to raise awareness about the prevalence of mental health issues on campus and connect students to the appropriate resources to get help. Half of Us works to decrease the stigma around mental health and encourage students to seek help if they need it, and ultimately changes and saves lives.

In planning for the campaign, mtvU conducted extensive research on how stress and depression are affecting college students nationwide. They found that nearly half of all college students reported feeling so depressed that they couldn’t function during the last school year. Even more students reported having faced an emotional problem of some sort. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, and the number one cause of suicide is depression. But fortunately, most mental health issues can be improved with proper treatment.

Half of Us informs and engages students through several offerings, including:

  • A self-evaluator screening tool—developed by the Duke University Medical Center—for multiple emotional disorders that customizes feedback based on the user’s school and available resources.
  • Information on how to help friends affected by a mental disorder.
  • Extended artist and student interviews designed to encourage college students to realize they are not alone in struggling with mental health issues or needing help. Artists such as Mary J. Blige, Pete Wentz of Fallout Boy and Max Bemis of Say Anything share their personal experiences with mental illnesses.
  • An Action Center, enabling students to get involved in mental health awareness on their campus or in their community, learn where their representatives stand on mental health legislation, start an Active Minds student advocacy chapter, and more. Active Minds groups develop and support student-run mental health awareness programs on campuses to create environments where mental health issues can be discussed openly so the stigma is decreased. Students can also search to find existing local programs they can join to promote awareness and stigma reduction.
  • Access to mood music playlists and video gifting, enabling students to access collections of songs for moods from high to low, and send videos through to cheer someone up or forge a connection.

Half of Us runs nearly 20 PSAs on mtvU and continues to reach out to college students around the country. was the recipient of the Peabody Award in 2008.

For more information, visit


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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.