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Saturday, April 16, 2016
Social Media Marketing Leads to Reduce Stigma associated with Mental Illness
Social Media has already played a role in improving treatment of mental illness. The result is improved economic benefit to California's economy.
A statewide social marketing campaign to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness has brought economic benefit to California’s economy, a new study says.
How? By boosting the employability, productivity and incomes of people afflicted by psychiatric conditions, according to the study, published Thursday by the RAND Corporation, a Santa Monica-based policy think tank.
The study showed that people in need of mental health treatment who were exposed to the anti-stigma message of the social marketing campaign were more likely to seek help. Those who get treatment have a significantly higher chance of finding good-paying jobs, thus contributing more tax dollars to state coffers, it said.
“This is an important finding,” said Alejandra Acuña, an assistant professor of social work at California State University, Northridge. “Social marketing campaigns have been used with great results to change behavior and address public health concerns like nutrition and HIV testing.”
Reducing stigma, especially in the minds of people who suffer from mental illness, was a key priority. Central to the effort was a multi-faceted social media campaign that delivered stigma-reducing messages in a variety of forms, including documentaries, public services announcements, online public forums and multimedia advertisements.
An important part of the media campaign was a documentary that recounts the stories of California residents who have suffered from mental illness and recovered. It was broadcast numerous times on public television stations, showed to community groups and other audiences and is posted on the CalMHSA-funded website, EachMindMatters.org.
“The goal is to change the conversation [about mental health] in our society by increasing knowledge and changing attitudes,” said Wayne Clark, executive director of CalMHSA. “The better mental health people have, the more productive citizens they will be.”
Scott Ashwood, lead author of the RAND study, said an estimated 121,000 people per year seek mental health treatment after being exposed to a social marketing campaign’s anti-stigma, anti-discrimination message.
Discrimination against people with mental health illnesses continues to be a serious social problem, experts say, though many of them think society is headed in the right direction.
And stigma in the eyes of others isn’t the only problem.
“Part of it has to with a person’s own self-perception,” said Tom Loats, director of behavioral health at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif. “People believe they have to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. That’s silly. You can’t do that for diabetes or heart disease.”
“If they recognize and accept their illness, they will seek treatment and function better,” Delacruz said. But they have to jump through the stigma barrier, she said, that’s where these social media campaign efforts can help.