Every year, public service announcements (PSAs) are created for National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) to encourage individuals in need of treatment and recovery services to seek help. PSAs are unpaid advertisements that air on television and/or radio stations, as well as online, at no cost.
To support the 2013 Recovery Month campaign, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA),within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), created two radio and television PSAs in English and Spanish. These PSAs, or spots, demonstrate the benefits of prevention, treatment and recovery, as well as advertise SAMHSA’s National Helpline. The spots also reflect this year’s Recovery Month theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Together on Pathways to Wellness.” They highlight the message that behavioral health is essential to health, prevention works, treatment is effective, and people recover from mental and/or substance use disorders. Spreading this message supports SAMHSA's Strategic Initiatives, including its efforts to increase public awareness of mental and substance use disorders.
These PSAs can be used year-round to promote prevention, treatment, and recovery. At the end of each PSA, SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD), is highlighted. This toll-free number, available in English or Spanish, provides 24-hour, confidential information about mental and substance use disorders and prevention, treatment, and recovery referrals.
Each year, Recovery Month PSAs are distributed to more than 1,000 television and 3,000 radio stations nationwide. To maximize their circulation, these pre-recorded PSAs are available in 30-, 20-, and 15-second versions. Additionally, “open-ended” versions are available to add your local information to personalize the spots. If possible, work with a local production company to insert supplementary information, such as a website, phone number, or logo. Otherwise, you can promote them “as is.”
If stations are unable to play the PSAs during September, remind them that these PSAs can be played year-round. If local television or radio stations do not have the 2013 PSAs, suggest emailing email@example.com to receive a copy. The PSAs are also available online in the "Video, Radio, and Web"section of the Recovery Month website at http://www.recoverymonth.gov.
At the end of this document are two 30-second and two 15-second radio PSA script examples for disc jockeys to read “live” on the air. These scripts can be easily tailored to promote a Recovery Month event in the local community. When customizing the live-read scripts to promote an event, keep in mind the following checklist:
- Include only crucial event details to limit the scripts to the allotted time;
- Refer viewers and listeners to a website or phone number for more information;
- Weave in local statistics or information about the prevalence of mental and substance use disorders that resonate with the local community; and
- Ask radio stations if their most popular radio personalities or a community leader who may be visiting the station can help promote the PSAs by reading them live.
Distribute the live-read PSA scripts to local radio stations to promote an event or the Recovery Month campaign in September. Before reaching out to radio stations, identify which stations are most appropriate for the target audience, considering demographic data such as age, gender, race, and location. After selecting your top choices, contact these radio stations to determine if they are interested in receiving the live-read scripts. Also, ask for a specific person who handles these requests, such as a PSA director. When sending PSAs to local stations, it’s important to include a cover letter, so the station understands the importance of the event and the Recovery Month campaign. Be sure to include contact information in case stations have questions. Refer to the “Work with the Media” document in this toolkit for a customizable pitch letter, and tailor it for use with PSA directors.
Promote Pre-recorded PSAs…
Stress to radio and television stations the importance of these PSAs and how they motivate people in need to seek help by spreading the message that recovery from mental and/or substance use disorders is possible. Start by writing down bullet points or creating a script to use when calling television and radio stations to explain the Recovery Month PSAs in detail.
To spread the word online, email the PSAs to Recovery Month supporters. Ask them to forward the pitch email, along with the PSA spots, to anyone who may find them useful. Be sure to include your contact information and an explanation of why the PSAs are important. If the supporters you contact have a website, they can embed the PSAs from the Recovery Month website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel. Typically, an “embed code” link is included near the video, which enables copying and pasting the video to other websites. For questions regarding embedding Recovery Month PSAs, email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
If you host a Recovery Month event, you can play the PSAs during the event to enhance the message. Set up a TV and play the PSAs on repeat, or display them on a big screen with loudspeakers. For additional information on how to plan a successful Recovery Month event, refer to the “Promote Recovery Month with Events” document in this toolkit.
Below are resources to help localize your message and convey the importance of recovery to a station’s listeners.
For more information on Recovery Month and services available to those in need, please refer to the following resources:
SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD): Provides 24-hour, free, and confidential information about mental and/or substance use disorders and prevention, treatment, and recovery referrals in English or Spanish.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255): Provides a free, 24-hour helpline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
SAMHSA’s “Find Substance Abuse and Mental Health Treatment” website: Contains information about treatment options and special services located in your area.
The Recovery Month website: Contains all the materials from this toolkit and a wide variety of relevant resources.
Technical assistance centers: Maximizes self-determination and recovery and assists people on their path to recovery, ultimately decreasing their dependence on expensive social services and avoiding hospitalization. The five technical assistance centers include:
BHBusiness: Offers targeted training and support for behavioral healthcare executives, CEOs, and directors, including health care insurance enrollment training information.
Center for Financing Reform and Innovation: Supports the need for information, analysis, products, and technical assistance to address significant changes in the organization and financing of behavioral health care, as well as the need to guide and support governments and people on how to most effectively and efficiently use available resources to meet the prevention, treatment, and recovery support needs of the public.
Healthcare.gov: Contains information on finding health insurance options, help using insurance, information on the Affordable Care Act, help comparing providers, and information on prevention and wellness resources.
SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, and Recovery: Increases access to Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Income for eligible adults who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and have a mental and/or substance use disorder.
Inclusion of websites and resources in this document and on the Recovery Month website does not constitute official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
2013 Live-Read Radio PSA Scripts
If you have an addiction or mental health issue, you are not alone. With the support of others, you can find your path of recovery from mental and/or substance use disorders.
This September, celebrate National Recovery Month, and help yourself or someone you love take the first step toward recovery.
For more information or treatment referral, call 1-800-662-HELP (or replace this number with a local treatment provider’s) or visit http://www.recoverymonth.gov.
If you have a mental and/or substance use disorder, you can find your path of recovery.
This September, celebrate National Recovery Month and call 1-800-662-HELP (or replace this number with a local treatment provider’s) for information on prevention or treatment referral, or visit http://www.recoverymonth.gov.