Mental Health Content: 5 Tips to Engage Your Audience
Your audience goes beyond the nearly 44 million adults who experience mental health problems each year — it includes their caregivers as well. In 2015, there were 8.4 million caregivers of people with mental health concerns.
As you prioritize your content, consider these 5 tips for creating and curating behavioral and mental health content that reaches those who need it most.
#1. To overcome the mental health stigma, choose your words carefully
Nearly half of the caregivers of adults with mental health issues feel that the stigma of mental illness makes it difficult to talk about their concerns. So make your content warm, supportive, relevant and personal.
- Use “you and your loved one”: This phrase addresses both people with mental health concerns and their caregivers.
- Choose second-person language: Talking directly to the audience legitimizes the feelings and concerns of the people reading your words.
- Talk about people, not conditions: Just as you wouldn’t write “Jack is cancer,” a person isn’t synonymous with mental illness. Rewrite content such as “Jane is bipolar” to “Jane has bipolar disease.”
- Avoid pejorative terms: Instead of describing someone as “an addict,” choose “a person with a substance use disorder.”
#2. Use mental health blogs and other formats to feature stories of recovery
Reach your audience through a patient (or caregiver) story. This personalized approach:
- Offers comfort: Reading the perspective of others can help make your readers feel less isolated.
- Provides meaning and hope: Featuring someone who is working on or who has successfully improved their health can be meaningful to readers who are in a similar situation.
- May be cathartic: Writing about emotions is beneficial for someone experiencing a mental illness, according to the American Psychological Association. Consider providing opportunities for those who have experience with mental illness to offer guest posts.
- Builds a relationship with your organization: When you supply a vehicle for people to share their stories, you are creating meaningful content that, once optimized for SEO, brings people to your site. And allowing people to comment on web content offers increased interaction with your brand and services.
#3. Offer resources and mental health support to help overcome barriers to treatment
Many people with a mental illness and their caregivers express difficulty identifying a mental health professional or primary care provider with behavioral health knowledge. It can be even more challenging to locate additional services — such as day-program treatment and inpatient treatment.
Invest in up-to-date resources on your website, such as:
- Your institutional resources
- Local nonprofit agency listings and offerings
- Government services
Consider featuring patient-friendly providers to legitimize your content and increase brand presence. Don’t just feature physicians. Position your counselors, social workers and advanced practice providers using formats such as:
- Q & A posts
- Posts highlighting promising research or programs
- Day-in-the-life posts that highlight the patient/provider relationship
#4. Use social media to reach tweens, teens and young adults
Mental illness among young adults is ubiquitous. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
- 75% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 24.
- 20% of youth ages 13 to 18 live with a mental health condition.
This same group of people routinely uses social media: 95% of teens have a smartphone and most often use Snapchat, Instagram or YouTube. Use all of your social channels — don’t focus exclusively on Facebook or Twitter — to reach an audience in need of the services you offer.
#5. Make it timely by latching onto behavioral health news stories
Capitalize on current mental health news stories such as:
- “The food that helps battle depression,” from The Wall Street Journal
- “FDA approves ketamine-like nasal spray for depression,” from CNN
You don’t have to wait for a news outlet to request an interview with your experts. Instead, hijack the news cycle and use search engine optimization (SEO) to your advantage:
- Create and upload a blog post related to the trending news topic.
- As people search for the news story, your optimized content will reach an audience who is seeking the very information and services you offer.
- You can craft the content in a manner that speaks to the specific needs of your audience.
Need more inspiration for writing compelling mental health content? Read these posts: