According to the World Health Organization, around 500 million people the world over suffers from one mental disorder or the other and 1 out of every 4 persons will be affected by neurological or mental disorders at one point or the other in their lives.
Every day, people are diagnosed with mental illnesses ranging from mood disorders, bipolar disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, eating disorders, trauma-related disorders, and substance abuse disorders. The interesting thing is that the causative agents for the various mental illnesses are very much grounded and worse still, a lot of people don’t understand a thing about mental health and how it works. Also, they do not feel comfortable engaging in mental health discussions because of the stigma that’s attached to it.
A study also shows that people are usually uncomfortable with being neighbors to someone with a serious mental illness; a situation that doesn’t help both parties. On one hand, the victim is being stigmatized and doesn’t get help when it’s needed most and on the other hand, because people fail to come through for those who have a mental illness, they also risk not getting help when the tables turn. So we keep moving in this vicious circle.
This is why there’s an urgent need for a more widespread understanding of mental health and the surrounding issues. In my opinion, the most effective way to drastically reduce mental illnesses is to make deliberate efforts to increase awareness about it. Everybody needs mental health education (however informal it is) including those who mentally sound.
Here are creative tips on how to effectively create mental health awareness.
- Host events
What better way to spread awareness than through in-person events? If you’re looking to make a direct impact on any mental health topic, it’s always good to host physical events and bring onboard experts to share their knowledge. That way, people can participate in real-time, ask questions, and share their true life experiences.
This could take the shape of a workshop, symposium, or an open house event – the like of which Achieve TMS and Achieve Medical Center have regularly hosted. Basically, the larger the gathering, the more impact will be made. So you need to intensify efforts on publicity in order to reach your target audience.
- Launch social media campaigns
In modern times, social media has cemented its place as the foremost medium for information dissemination. Not only that, the various social media platforms are effective in spreading awareness or educating people on a particular cause due to their ease of accessibility and high level of engagement. Social media campaigns are effective because a lot of people who have depression and some other mild mental illnesses spend quality time on different social media channels. Therefore, it’s a good place to catch their attention.
One good thing about promoting mental health awareness on social media is that you can get more engagement in the form of shares, likes, and comments. If you’re creative enough with the content of the campaign, a lot of people will resonate with your message and give you free publicity. Once you have a trending discussion, many more people will join in the conversation and learn from it.
- Mass & print media awareness
Although social media seems to be the go-to medium when it comes to spreading information due to its far-reaching nature, it doesn’t undermine role of the traditional media channels. Therefore, you want to devote a good portion of your budget to TV and radio campaigns, not forgetting the newspapers as well.
This should not be limited to advertisements alone; it could be a full-featured article on newspaper pages, sponsored documentaries, drama series, jingles, panel discussions, and interview segments. Generally, the more creative methods you could come up with, the better.
In addition to the above-mentioned, you should consider appointing campaign ambassadors. These are people who would like to volunteer and spread the gospel of the campaign. They could be students, health workers or even social media influencers who’d use the event stickers, war the Tshirts and other customizable materials and carry them about. Also, you should collaborate with NGOs and individuals who are embarking on similar projects.
The ultimate idea is to explore different viable strategies to ensure that people are more aware of mental illness, their roles towards preventing it, how they can help to reduce the stigma attached to it, and how to live with and help the people with any form of mental illness.