Louisiana is now making it easier for citizens in need of mental health counseling to find those services. A multimedia advertising campaign launching this week promotes a toll-free telephone number that people can call to receive help.

Sponsored by Louisiana Spirit, the Department of Health and Hospital’s crisis counseling program, the new advertising campaign is the second phase of a public awareness effort designed to emphasize the importance of mental health in the recovery process since the 2005 hurricanes.

First launched last August, the campaign focuses on helping citizens get help for their mental health issues in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The program’s workers have counseled every kind of storm-affected citizen, including first responders, the homeless and young children.  This campaign reminds citizens that even now, two years after the storms, these services are still available and easily accessible.  People can be connected with experienced crisis counselors by calling 1-800-273-TALK. 

According to Charles G. Cook, executive director of Louisiana Spirit, the campaign’s message is also designed to remind people that it is normal to need assistance, and that Louisiana Spirit is here to help.

“Our message recognizes resilience, rebuilding and moving forward,” Cook said. “With hurricane season upon us, it’s normal for some people to experience feelings of anxiety, helplessness, trouble sleeping and other fears and worries associated with their recovery. These messages tell people that our counselors are ready to help, and then direct citizens to the appropriate services.”

The new campaign was designed by Zehnder Communications, Inc., a Louisiana-based marketing and advertising agency. The campaign components include television, radio, outdoor and print.

Louisiana Spirit offers its counseling services free of charge to anyone in Louisiana, as well as community organizations, government employees, rescuers, disaster service workers, business owners, religious groups and other special populations. Services include individual counseling for all ages, group counseling for first responders and specialized counseling and stress management services.

Established following the storms of 2005, Louisiana Spirit offers counseling services statewide. Almost two million crisis counseling contacts have occurred since Louisiana Spirit was formed.