When lifelong friends Clara and Tom need emotional support or a helping hand, the animated characters turn to each other first. But after a new job causes Tom to become stressed, uncharacteristically unreliable and to have trouble sleeping, Clara realizes her listening ear isn't enough.

In a short video produced by APA, Clara gently but consistently urges Tom to seek help from a mental health professional. He eventually agrees, and Clara learns that "connecting him to a psychologist turned out to be some of the best help Clara could ever give to her friend," the narrator says.

The video, released in November, is part of APA's psychotherapy awareness initiative promoting the benefits of psychotherapy as a treatment for depression. The first two episodes in the series, released in 2012, parody prescription drug ads to convey psychotherapy as a low-risk and evidence-based treatment option. The latest episode focuses on warning signs of mental illness and provides pointers for the public on how to encourage a friend or relative to seek help.

It was developed with input from psychologists in light of the national dialogue about mental health following several national tragedies, says Angel Brownawell, of APA's Practice Directorate, who managed the project. The videos are accompanied by a series of articles on the Psychology Help Center website that describe how psychotherapy works, issues related to patient confidentiality, and psychological testing and evaluation.

"We wanted people to have a way to connect with the characters and to feel prepared to be able to talk to a family member or friend who they may recognize needs a little extra encouragement to get professional help," she says.

— Anna Miller