Post B: Changing the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

The disabling challenges of mental illness are enhanced by the stigma associated with these health conditions, which may lead to a host of adverse consequences such as hopelessness, reduced self-esteem, delayed help-seeking, and diminished quality of life—just to name a few. (Schomerus, 2009).

The In One Voice campaign was a brief anti-stigma social media intervention that was rolled out from January to March 2012 in British Colombia, Canada. Funded by Foundry (https://foundrybc.ca/), a non-for-profit network of community-based health and social services, the campaign targeted young people ages 12-24 in the peak time where attitudes start to form, and mental health issues may begin to emerge. (Reavley, 2011). 

Home page of the Foundry website.

The urgent priority (Collins, 2011) for the initiative was to eliminate the stigma behind mental health through public education, aided by the Foundry website, which is full of resources and references to nearby health centres. 

In a top-down approach, the campaign was transdisciplinary and multi channel; advertised traditionally at several hockey games including the National Hockey League’s All Stars game, as well as on television, radio, and in print. Being specifically designed to reach the youth however, the campaign was also rolled out via social media including Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. 

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa shares his experience in a video about close friend and teammate, Rick Rypien, who suffered from depression.

Results of the campaign were measured by BC Mental Health and Addiction Services, with a survey study of approximately 400 people from the targeted group. Results showed 24.8% of respondents having remembered the campaign two months after its airing, 36% of these having recalled discussing or sharing the campaign with others, as well as an 11% increase in awareness of the Mindcheck website. (Livingston, 2012). This success can be largely attributed to the appearance of well-liked sportsman Kevin Bieksa in the film, authors concluding that a key approach in reducing stigma among young people is to involve individuals directly affected by the issue – a method with potential to be applied universally (Yamaguci, 2011).

The challenge of engaging those without mental health issues was addressed by encouraging the community to “add your voice” on the website in support of friends and family affected. As a result, a 16% increase in awareness of the website was experienced by respondents without mental illness. 

There was no significant difference however, in respondents ability to assist others with mental health issues nor an improvement in stigma. This suggests that social media campaigns may be more successful in achieving improvements in health literacy outcomes and are less effective for reducing the personal stigma and social distance associated with mental health issues.

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References

Collins PY, Patel V, Joestle SS (2011) Grand challenges in global mental health. Nature 475(7354):27–30.

Livingston D (2012) Evaluation of a campaign to improve awareness and attitudes of young people towards mental health issues. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 48(6):965-973.

Reavley N, Jorm A (2011) Young people’s stigmatizing attitudes towards people with mental disorders: findings from an Australian national survey. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 45(12):1033–1039.

Schomerus G, Matschinger H, Angermeyer MC (2009) The stigma of psychiatric treatment and help-seeking intentions for depression. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 259(5):298–306.

Yamaguchi S, Mino Y, Uddin S (2011) Strategies and future attempts to reduce stigmatization and increase awareness of mental health problems among young people: a narrative review of educational interventions. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 65(5):405–415.

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