Feature

Through national magazine and newspaper advertisements, APA is encouraging parents to talk with their children about the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks and reminding adults that help is available for those who are having trouble managing feelings of anger, grief and distress as a result of the tragedies.

The advertisements, part of two public service campaigns called "Talk With Your Kids" and "Help Available," are a collaboration among APA, the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) and the Ad Council, the organization that created the "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk" ad campaign, as well as the recent APA "Act Against Violence" campaign. The "Talk With Your Kids" campaign also includes a separate television ad featuring first lady Laura Bush that was developed by the Ad Council and the White House.

The "Talk With Your Kids" message advises parents that children of all ages might be feeling frightened and having nightmares or appetite changes as a result of the tragedies, and that it's up to parents to spot these signs of distress and help their children by "taking the time to create safe and calming opportunities for them to express what they're feeling."

The ad directs parents to a location on APA's Help Center Web Site that features information for parents--broken down by age categories--on typical reactions to trauma in children and adolescents, signs of distress to look for and what to do.

"The document is designed to give parents information about how to help their children," says Rhea K. Farberman, APA's executive director for public and member communications. "The information will help parents understand that if their child is suddenly scared to leave their side, or having nightmares, that in these circumstances, it's not abnormal."

The "Help Available" ad assures adults that strong reactions to the attacks are normal, and points out that most adults will manage to work through any problems on their own, says Farberman. At the same time, it maintains that some people may have more difficulty recovering and may want to seek the help of a mental health professional.

These ads also direct readers to APA's Help Center Web Site, which features resources on reactions to trauma, and includes the APA Public Education Campaign's 800 number, which leads visitors to a state psychological association referral service.

The advertisements and the Web resources are based on the expertise of psychology clinicians and researchers, adds Farberman.

The Ad Council circulated the print ads throughout October to newspapers and magazines across the country, including Newsweek, which ran the "Talk With Your Kids" ad in a special issue on the Sept. 11 tragedy.

Because advertising designers and creators were willing to donate their time for the project, APA, NMHA and the Ad Council produced the print ads at no cost. David Nathanson, a partner in the advertising firm of Bezos/Nathanson Marketing Group in New York City, designed the "Talk With Your Kids" ads over a weekend in late September; Flashpoint Advertising, the agency that created APA's ACT campaign materials, donated its time to produce the "Help Available" ads. The Ad Council says the campaigns may be refreshed or redistributed later this year if needed, or it may add additional campaigns focused on coping with trauma.

In addition to reaching and helping readers throughout the nation, the project also represents an important collaboration within the mental health community, says Farberman.

"The message is not coming just from psychology," said Farberman, "but from a coalition of the mental health community, and that is the value of us working with the National Mental Health Association."