In January 2009, we launched our groundbreaking anti stigma campaign across England to challenge attitudes and change behaviour around mental health problems
We have run several campaign bursts since, with advertising on TV, in the national press and magazines, on the radio, and online. The campaign is aimed at people who know someone with a mental health problem – family, friends, colleagues and neighbours – but who don’t realise the impact their attitudes and behaviours can have or who don't know what to say and do.
Since the campaign launched, we have reached 47 million people in England, impacting on public knowledge, attitudes and behaviour.
Our first campaign in January 2009 helped to create a public debate around mental health problems.
It was based on research showing that the public had low levels of knowledge about mental health problems, and high levels of fear. Our target audience did not recognise mental health discrimination in the same way they do other types of discrimination, so we needed to get public attention, put mental health onto the agenda and provide some basic knowledge about mental health problems.
Our TV ad showed how stigma and discrimination impacts on the life of a man with a mental health problem. It showed the real impact of the negative attitudes and thoughtless comments made by friends, family and employers.
We based the ad on what people told us about their experiences of stigma and discrimination in our Stigma Shout survey.
We also ran press advertising in national newspapers and magazines featuring celebrities and non-celebrities who have experienced mental health problems.
Myths and facts
During the first stages of the campaign we realized it was important to tackle low levels of knowledge about mental illness by providing basic information.
We did this by busting some common myths about mental health problems – showing the public that mental health problems are common, and that people can and do recover. Our myth-busting adverts appeared on the London Underground and in the press.
We targeted pubs too. Our Myth/Fact beer mats went to hundreds of pubs across England and we placed an ad on the back of washroom doors.
How did the campaign do?
Our advertising was well recognised
42% of people said they were aware of our advertising after the first campaign. The TV ad in particular effectively communicated our key campaign messages. People found the campaign engaging, credible, interesting and educational.
The campaign improved attitudes
There was a slight positive shift in attitudes around mental health problems among people who had seen the campaign – very encouraging at these early stages.
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