PSAs can be nostalgic. Interactive videos can be cheesy.

PSAs are supposed to inform the general public of a social issue or other concern. They’re not supposed to be nostalgic. I don’t know why they make me think of my childhood, especially since I barely remember any PSAs I might have watched when I was a child. If I were another person, I’d be worried about my sanity.

I am sure everyone is familiar with the The Ad Council,the non-profit organization that produce and advertise ad campaigns for other non-profit organizations. I am going to make the very bold statement that if you are an adult living in the U.S. that you have seen at least one PSA from the Ad Council. If you haven’t seen those creepy PSAs from Tobacco Free Florida with the woman who has a hole in her neck, though, consider yourself lucky.

There is one particular Ad Council campaign that I was fond of. Nearly a decade ago, the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration started the National Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaign in order to encourage young adults to provide help and support for friends who have a mental illness. The campaign has since ended.

The television ad that they ran consists of a subtle, and somewhat somber, underscore of piano music, a voice over and a group of young adults. The voice over starts by stating that everyone has friends. As he starts naming specific groups of friends a person might have (online friends, friends you hang out with on a Saturday night, etc.), the group gets smaller and smaller. Eventually, there is only one person left: the friend who supports you when you are dealing with a mental illness.

When I initially saw this PSA, I was captivated by it because it was simple, yet it sends a powerful message without being overwhelming. The interactive video that was on their Web site, however, was quite the opposite.

For a number of years, there was an interactive video involving three fictional friends: James, Sara and Angela. The premise is Angela was recently diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and had told James and Sara shortly after. James and Sara are at a coffee shop and are concerned about Angel’a well-being, but are not sure how to support her. They call Angela, and she meets them at the coffee shop. The three of them talk about her situation, and Andrea shares how she feels while James and Sara both listen to her and offer their kind words and support.

Throughout the video, you have the option of choosing from two options: one that you should do and one that you shouldn’t do. If you choose the right option, it automatically moves on to the next scene. If you choose the wrong scene, James or Sara appears, and they basically tell that you’re not a horrible person and why you’re wrong. Along the way, you also get tips about supporting someone with a mental illness and facts regarding mental health.

It sounds like a fun interactive activity, but I find it a little bit too unrealistic and cheesy for my tastes. The biggest thing that bothered me was I felt they kept repeating bipolar disorder repeatedly in a way that seemed as if they didn’t even know what bipolar disorder is. I know. I just criticized a non-profit mental health campaign. I’m a horrible person. Now, please excuse me. I have to run away from the mob coming after me with torches.