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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A grassroots awareness movement committed to expanding the conversation about mental health policy and helping people find effective treatment launched Monday.

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The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute’s “Okay to Say” is a community-based movement aimed at increasing public awareness about mental health issues that affect Texans and the effective treatments available, as well as the challenges and successes people encounter when they seek help for this treatable disease.

Okay to Say asks people and organizations to join the movement and share their stories and support.

Okay to Say hopes to raise awareness that treatment works and is available across Texas, according to a news release from The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.

“Nine out of ten Texans think that it is more difficult to discuss mental health rather than a physical issue,” explains Andy Keller, PhD, chief executive officer, Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. “By starting the conversations, we help those living with mental illness, as well as their families and loved ones, know that they are not alone and that treatment exists.”

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The statewide effort launches with Emmitt Smith and Mark Cuban encouraging Texans to join the movement and add their voice through a social media campaign.

People are free to add their name to the pledge. They can also share stories of how mental illness has affected them or a loved one and include statements of support, photos and video.

“The first step in getting people help, is to realize that it’s okay to say you live with mental illness or know someone who does. By talking openly about mental health, we can lead the way, as individuals and as a state, in getting people the help they need,” Keller says.

The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute says it’s a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that supports the implementation of policies and programs to help Texans obtain effective, efficient mental health care when and where they need.

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