The American Psychiatric Association Foundation selected Raleigh as a pilot city for a new program hoping to empower residents to address their mental health.
Almost 1.5 million people in North Carolina have a mental health condition—that’s more than three times the population of Raleigh (!)—yet 22% of those people are unable to get needed counseling or therapy. Enter the American Psychiatric Association Foundation (APAF)’s transformative awareness campaign Mental Health Care Works, which recently chose Raleigh as one of the four cities to launch a pilot in Raleigh along with Denver, Baltimore and DC.
“Our team has done extensive research and vetting to select our pilot markets for this campaign,” says Emily Slattery, assistant account executive at Finn Partners. “As we examined the potential markets, we looked specifically at the unmet need for mental health conditions, the existing healthcare infrastructure and openness to seek help.”
Mental Health Care Works is set to roll out nationwide in early 2024 following the pilot program. The comprehensive campaign is designed to raise awareness around the symptoms of mental health disorders, showcase the efficacy of seeking help and encourage individuals to take action. Prior to forming Mental Health Care Works, APAF conducted a national survey showing that, although a large majority of the population are aware of mental health services in their area, nearly one-third still experience symptoms without seeking help.
“The mental health crisis in this country continues to grow, and while we see conditions worsening, far too few are seeking out resources, help or treatment,” says APAF Executive Director Rawle Andrews Jr. “Mental health is a fundamental aspect of overall well-being, but few treat it as such. Through this campaign, we hope to raise awareness, combat discrimination and encourage action for struggling individuals.”
Key elements of the campaign include high-impact marketing (think TV, radio, billboards and social media) and partnerships with both local and national voices, as well as an easily accessible landing page with helpful resources.
Reaching each generation is another major focus of the campaign. In order to appeal to all age groups, APAF has created three different narratives to resonate with various phases of life: young Lizzie, who is going back to skateboarding after seeking help for her anxiety; new mother Simone, who is dealing with postpartum depression after giving birth to her new baby; and grandfather Diego, who is getting help for his depression after his wife passed.
“The message is that mental health care can be life-changing,” says APAF Board Chair Saul Levin. “Now more than ever, we’re pleased to be leading this important effort to get the word out and know that we will have that impact.”
Levin adds: “There is no physical health without mental health and no mental health without physical health.” And with this new campaign, hopefully Raleighites can take the first step in prioritizing their mental well-being.