I meant to post my letter last month...but we were all sick here and the holidays turned things upside down as usual. So, finally, here is what I sent to Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz at the NYU Child Study Center.
I am writing to voice my concern regarding the ransom note campaign that your Child Study Center will be running. I am the parent of an autistic child, and I myself have had to deal with depression, ADHD, & OCD. I do not think this campaign will be helpful to anyone. It does not help parents identify signs or symptoms, if a teen or child reads the signs it will surely make them feel more hopeless.
Furthermore, each ad stigmatizes the diseases and disorders. The themes of possession and kidnapping do nothing but spread the idea that those who suffer are inhuman. As a child and teenager who required fairly intense medical intervention to overcome some serious issues, I know how society judges and treats the mentally ill and the disabled. The public doesn't understand. Ads like this push the public into further misunderstanding, and promote stereotypes. It was my understanding the goal of this campaign was to spread awareness and end the stigma surrounding these conditions. I feel this campaign is doing just the opposite.
As an artist, I do see the attractiveness and creative angle of these ads. They are also eye-catching and thought-provoking. Unfortunately, they lack accurate and helpful information. They tend to be more of an ad to promote fear and hopelessness. I sincerely hope you will reconsider these ad campaigns, and further ads will be of a kinder, more accurate, and more helpful nature.
I wish I'd had the time to post a celebratory post a few weeks ago when this all came down...I'm thrilled to see the great change we all created. It surely has refueled me, and also made me feel like real change can happen. I think more & more voices are being heard each day, and while we have long road ahead, it is more possible than ever for us to achieve all we are fighting for. I am filled with hope for the New Year.
Happy New Years!