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mtvU and The Jed Foundation Ask Students 'How Are You A Friend?'
Date:10/29/2008

"Half of Us" Campaign Launches New On-Air and Online Content to Fight Mental Health Stigma and Empower Students to Help Their Friends

NEW YORK, Oct. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- mtvU, MTV's 24-hour college network, and The Jed Foundation, the leading nonprofit working to reduce emotional distress and prevent suicide among college students, are expanding their Peabody Award-winning "Half of Us" campaign with new content launching today that encourages students to support friends who may be struggling emotionally. New additions to the campaign include on-air content featuring interviews with students and high-profile artists; information on identifying and addressing mental health problems in peers; a Facebook application that encourages students to express their emotions and support each other; and public service announcements that empower students to move beyond the commonly used question "how are you?" to really see if friends are struggling and offer support if needed.

The "Half of Us" campaign takes its name from research showing that nearly half of all college students say they have been so depressed they couldn't function at some point during the last year. A recent study out of the University of Texas at Austin also found that half of all college students have thought about suicide. Peers can play an important role in encouraging friends to get help for emotional problems - research conducted for the campaign found that over 75% would turn to friends if they were struggling. To make sure that students are prepared to help peers in need, the "Half of Us" campaign is focusing efforts on starting a healthy dialogue around mental health issues, giving students the information they need to identify common warning signs of a problem and preparing them to encourage friends to find the support they need.

"It's impossible to be in college today and not know someone who is struggling," said Ross Martin, Head of Programming for mtvU. "The 'Half of Us' campaign fights to shatter the stigma surrounding mental health, and empowers students to support each other when they need it most. The signs are there, and now so is the help."

"The power of our partnership with mtvU is its ability to reach students where they are in a way they understand," Courtney Knowles, Executive Director of The Jed Foundation adds, "These new efforts have the potential to empower millions of students watching mtvU, surfing the net and interacting on social networking sites."

mtvU and The Jed Foundation will launch the following on-air and online content today:

-- Ronnie Winter "Half of Us" Special - Ronnie Winter, lead

vocalist for the popular band Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, talks frankly

about a childhood of addiction and abuse, his own struggles with

depression during his college years, and how a friend helped pull him

through this dark period in his life. This interview debuts today on

mtvU and online at http://www.HalfofUs.com.

-- New Mental Health Public Service Announcements (PSAs) - mtvU will debut

new PSAs throughout the semester that highlight the important role

friends play in dealing with mental health issues. These PSAs encourage

students to help friends who are struggling by looking out for the

warning signs of a problem, offering support and connecting them with

help if needed.

-- New Student Portraits - Rachel and Lauren, students from Philadelphia

University, talk candidly about Rachel's history with bi-polar

disorder and how Lauren has patiently supported her through the ups and

downs. This feature is available today on http://www.HalfofUs.com and will air

on mtvU. Additional student stories will be released later this

semester.

-- To Write Love on Her Arms "Half of Us" Special - Jamie

Tworkowski, founder of To Write Love on Her Arms, a nonprofit movement

dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for those struggling with

depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide, shares how his personal

experience with a friend in crisis led him to take action and help

others. Debuts later this semester on http://www.HalfofUs.com.

-- "My Mood Ring" Facebook Application: - Earlier this year,

"Half of Us" launched "My Mood Ring," a Facebook

application that allows users to express how they are feeling, see how

their friends are doing and support each other by sending

"vibes." The application has been downloaded over 35,000

times. A "Mood Meter" has just been launched that shows the

collective moods of all of the application's users and provides a

direct connection to the content, tools and resources on

http://www.HalfofUs.com.

-- New "Help a Friend" Online Resource Center - http://www.HalfofUs.com,

the campaign's online hub that engages and informs college students

on mental health, will feature new information on how young people can

help friends confronting emotional issues. The site offers a

confidential, safe space for students to learn more about mental health

through interactive content, take an anonymous screening or access

school-specific resources.

mtvU and The Jed Foundation launched the Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated "Half of Us" campaign in November 2006 to fight the stigma around mental health and encourage help-seeking among college students across the country. The campaign includes on-air, online and on campus elements. The backbone of the campaign is http://www.HalfofUs.com where students can access a variety of programming and resources, including videos featuring a diverse group of students and artists like Mary J. Blige, Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy and Brittany Snow, speaking candidly about their personal struggles with serious mental health issues. The centerpiece of the site is an anonymous self-evaluator screening tool - developed by the Duke University Medical Center - which helps users understand more about their state of mind and access campus-specific resources. The site also features an action center where students can become advocates on issues related to college mental health and suicide prevention.

The "Half of Us" campaign takes its name from a national survey that showed nearly half of all college students have been so depressed they couldn't function, and was built on original research that showed most students would not seek help for emotional issues due to embarrassment or a lack of information about available resources (visit http://www.HalfofUs.com/press.aspx to view the findings of the "mtvU College Mental Health Study: Stress, Depression, Stigma & Students).

About The Jed Foundation

Since its inception in 2000, The Jed Foundation has become the nation's leading organization working to reduce emotional distress and prevent suicide among college students. Guided by an expert board of mental health professionals, the organization is changing the way parents and students think about mental health, paving the way for more young people to get the treatment they need, and helping colleges build safer, healthier campus communities. The Jed Foundation was founded by Phil and Donna Satow after they lost their 20-year-old son, Jed, to suicide. The Foundation's programs include ULifeline, an anonymous, confidential, online resource center, where college students can be comfortable searching for the information they need and want on mental health and suicide prevention. Currently, more than 1,500 colleges and universities participle in the ULifeline Network.

About mtvU

Broadcast to more than 750 college campuses and via top cable distributors in 700 college communities nationwide, mtvU reaches upwards of 9 million U.S. college students - making it the largest, most comprehensive television network just for college students. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, mtvU can be seen in the dining areas, fitness centers, student lounges and dorm rooms of campuses throughout the United States, as well as on cable systems from Charter Communications, Verizon FiOS TV, Suddenlink Communications, AT&T u-Verse and nearly 70 others. mtvU is dedicated to every aspect of college life, reaching students everywhere they are: on-air, online and on campus. mtvU programs music videos from emerging artists that can't be seen anywhere else, news, student life features and initiatives that give college students the tools to advance positive social change. mtvU is always on campus, with more than 250 events per year, including exclusive concerts, giveaways, shooting mtvU series and more. For more information about mtvU, and a complete programming schedule, visit http://www.mtvU.com.

mtvU also owns and operates the College Media Network, the largest interactive network of online college newspapers in the United States, and RateMyProfessors.com, the Internet's largest listing of collegiate professor ratings. The College Media Network comprises nearly 600 campus publications that serve institutions including Brown University, the University of Illinois, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas at Austin and Duke University, with a combined enrollment of over 5.5 million students, reaching an average of 5 million unique users each month. RateMyProfessors.com reaches approximately 2.9 million college students each month, via the site's more than 6.6 million student-generated ratings of over 1,000,000 college professors.


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SOURCE mtvU
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