Ad Council Announces $65 Million Multi-Year Mental Health Initiative

November 7, 2022

Huntsman Mental Health Institute Makes Lead $15 Million Contribution

Half (49%) of American residents ages 16 to 65 say they have a mental health condition, and of those who report a condition, only about half (48%) say they’re getting help or treatment, according to a new study conducted in May to June 2022 released today by the Ad Council. Additionally, 43% do not feel comfortable talking to people close to them about their emotions and how they are feeling. To address the mental health crisis throughout the U.S. and encourage people to take steps to support their mental health, the Ad Council announced plans for a wide-reaching and comprehensive communications effort. With a founding gift of $15 million from Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI), the national Mental Health Initiative has set a goal of $65 million over the next seven years.

On the heels of the nonprofit’s groundbreaking national COVID-19 Vaccine Education campaign which reached more than 75% of those eligible to be vaccinated, the Ad Council is evolving the coalition-based and multi-audience model that made it so successful and mobilizing the advertising, media and marketing industries to address mental health issues facing communities across the country.

Due to cascading challenges over the last few years in the U.S., many populations are now experiencing mental health struggles:

  • Four in 10 adults reported anxiety and/or depression symptoms in 2021, a four-fold increase from 2019, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Black adults (48%) and Hispanic adults (46%) were more likely than White adults (41%) to report such symptoms.
  • Youth and young adults across the country are experiencing increasing mental health challenges. According to a 2021 study, 37.1% of U.S. high school students reported poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 19.9% considering and 9% attempting suicide in the preceding year. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
  • The rate of LGBTQ+ teens who experience depressive symptoms is believed to be six times higher than heterosexual teens. (Mental Health America)

“We have all been touched by the mental health crisis—it’s one that we’ve experienced for many years, but which was greatly exacerbated by COVID-19 and a confluence of other factors including the ongoing fight for racial justice and the challenging economy,” said Lisa Sherman, Ad Council President and CEO. “We’ve seen the incredible progress that can be made when the Ad Council convenes a coalition of partners around a singular issue. Together, we’re uniquely poised to reshape the conversations around mental health and help millions of Americans when they need it most.”

Guided by mental health experts, amplified by partnerships across every sector and rooted in extensive research with key audiences, the initiative aims to change social norms, reduce stigma around mental health and encourage people to take a proactive approach to their mental health issues. With the founding contribution from HMHI, a premier university-wide institute dedicated to psychiatric research, education and treatment at the University of Utah, the Ad Council will bring together a coalition of leading mental health NGOs, including American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Psychological Association, The Jed Foundation, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), National Council for Mental Wellness, Peg’s Foundation and the Steinberg Institute; federal agencies and private sector corporations for this collaborative effort. The effort will be rooted in deep cultural insights and informed by a panel of experts from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), The Curtis Center for Health Equity, the Chester M. Pierce MD Division of Global Psychiatry, The Jed Foundation and the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, GLAAD, the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, among others.

Funding will support the development of a best-in-class insights and analytics engine to inform and evaluate the impact of relevant content, an extensive trusted messenger program, employer workplace resources, grassroots community activations and a large scale multi-pronged communications effort with discrete campaigns and open-source partner toolkits for populations in need.

Established in 2021 following a $150 million gift from the Huntsman Foundation, HMHI is designed to be a convener, collaborator, care giver and problem solver. HMHI’s intent is to bring together the best of all fields to develop innovative solutions to complex disorders like substance use and addiction, depression and suicide, and solve mental health challenges like workforce shortages and stigma.

“Huntsman Mental Health Institute has a grand vision to truly transform mental health for every person—a vision that stretches beyond Utah and the Mountain West,” says Mark Hyman Rapaport, MD, CEO, Huntsman Mental Health Institute. “This audacious goal requires us to adopt out-of-the-box solutions and develop bold collaborations inside and outside healthcare to tackle the complex mental health challenges facing our society. We are thrilled with the opportunity to partner with the Ad Council; we believe this is a transformative partnership that will yield real and lasting change.”

Mental health has long been a priority issue for the Ad Council, with three national campaigns currently running: Teen and Young Adult Mental Health (Seize the Awkward) in partnership with The Jed Foundation and AFSP created by Droga5, Middle School Mental Health (Sound It Out) in partnership with Pivotal Ventures created by McCann, Cassanova and Egami, and Veterans’ Suicide Prevention (Don’t Wait, Reach Out) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs created by TBWA. A new national campaign will launch in spring 2023 to reach adults, particularly men, as well as Black and Hispanic communities. The new campaign is being created pro bono by ad agency FCB. IPG Mediabrands is the media agency of record, as an extension of IPG’s longstanding support of the Ad Council’s mental health efforts. The new Mental Health Initiative will encompass current campaigns and new efforts to meet the needs of multiple audiences. Together, the initiative will address the needs of Black, Hispanic, rural, LGBTQ+ and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) populations.

Media companies and platforms including Amazon Ads, Audacy, CSMG/EsportsU, Effectv, FOX, Google & YouTube, Meta, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Pinterest, Snap Inc. and TikTok have been supporting the Ad Council’s mental health efforts and will continue to support content produced as part of the initiative in donated media time and space.

To reach communities of color in a culturally relevant way, the Ad Council is also developing a comprehensive “ground game” strategy in partnership with agencies who have deep expertise in the Black community (JOY Collective), Hispanic community (Latinovations) and the faith community (Values Partnerships). The Ad Council will collaborate with community-based organizations including UnidosUS, culturally relevant programs including How Sweet the Sound, and trusted messengers to provide mental health education programs, conduct events and coordinate town halls.

Additionally, a robust employer effort via the Health Action Alliance will be deployed to address mental health among America’s workforce. With more than 4,000 participating companies, the Health Action Alliance provides free tools, training, best practices and events to help all employers support the mental health of their workforce. The Health Action Alliance is a joint initiative of the Ad Council, CDC Foundation, de Beaumont Foundation, National Safety Council and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — in partnership with Meteorite.

The Mental Health Initiative will be similarly structured to the Ad Council’s impactful COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative. Launched in February 2021, the COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative produced more than 800 pieces of PSA content, provided vaccine information in over seven languages, hosted more than 150 events, worked with nearly 300 influencers and trusted messengers and garnered more than $305 million in donated media.

To learn more or contribute to the Ad Council’s Mental Health Initiative, please visit

The Ad Council

The Ad Council has a long history of creating life-saving public service communications in times of national crisis, starting in the organization’s earliest days during World War II to September 11th and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. Its deep relationships with media outlets, the creative community, issue experts and government leaders make the organization uniquely poised to quickly distribute life-saving information to millions of Americans.

The Ad Council is where creativity and causes converge. The non-profit organization brings together the most creative minds in advertising, media, technology and marketing to address many of the nation’s most important causes. The Ad Council has created many of the most iconic campaigns in advertising history. Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. Smokey Bear. Love Has No Labels. The Ad Council’s innovative social impact campaigns raise awareness, inspire action and save lives. To learn more, visit, follow the Ad Council’s communities on Facebook and Twitter, and view the creative on YouTube.

Huntsman Mental Health Institute

Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) was established in 2021 following the Huntsman Foundation’s historic gift to the University of Utah of $150 million. HMHI is a university-wide Institute with a reputation throughout the Mountain West as a leader in advanced psychiatric treatment and care, serving a diverse population from young children to geriatric patients. Researchers at HMHI develop and apply the most advanced methods in genetics, imaging, epidemiology, and big data analysis. HMHI is also the regional training center for psychiatry and other mental health disciplines. HMHI’s main 170-bed full-service hospital is adjacent to the University of Utah campus, and HMHI’s 1,691 faculty, staff, and students provide clinical, research, and training programs in over 20 locations across Utah and Idaho. For more information, visit and join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.