Getting the message right will help the public reduce their risk of mental illness
In the 2006–07 budget, the Australian Government announced expenditure of $21.6 million over 4 years to improve community awareness of the link between using illicit drugs and the development of mental disorders. Community awareness programs to reduce the prevalence of unhealthy behaviours are nothing new; they have been around for decades for cancer, heart disease and infectious diseases. While campaigns focusing on the negative effects of drug misuse have already been delivered, this initiative breaks new ground. It will be the first large-scale campaign in Australia to tell the public what actions they can take to reduce their risk of developing mental disorders. Australia is not alone in this area, with both France and the United States launching campaigns in 2005 to alert the public to the potential link.1,2 However, it is too early to know whether these campaigns have had any effect.
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