Here’s a stat that should come as a surprise to absolutely no one: the number of people reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression increased 31% from the year before, according to the CDC. Living through the pandemic has wreaked havoc on our mental and emotional health — and we could all benefit from some mental health care.
By promoting mental health services that your organization offers, your audience can easily access the help they need.
Who Needs Pandemic-Related Mental Health Services?
No one is immune to pandemic-related stressors. When developing your services and advertising strategies, consider how to meet the specific needs of the groups most affected. A 2021 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, highlights these groups in need of mental health care:
- School-age children
- Young adults ages 18 to 24
- Lower-income households or those who experienced job loss
- People of color
- Essential workers
Promoting Mental Health Services Marketing Guide
Knowing who is at risk and reaching them are different tasks. Use these strategies to develop and promote quality mental health care during the pandemic:
1) Build it so they will come
Nothing is more frustrating to a user than seeking services that aren’t readily available. The first step is to shore up your mental health offerings, including:
- Telemedicine visits: Thanks to relaxed federal rules about reimbursement for virtual visits, telehealth is worth the investment. Plus, studies show that psychotherapy delivered remotely is at least as good as face-to-face visits. And many patients appreciate the convenience and feel more comfortable with virtual sessions.
- Group sessions: Identify providers and use a virtual visit platform to run virtual group sessions to satisfy increased demand. Create specific groups to meet the needs of different demographics.
Example: The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation offers virtual group therapy sessions for school-aged children.
- Offer a school presence: School-aged and young adult students are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 stress. If schools or universities in your area are in session, consider partnering with them. Offer on-site counseling sessions or training to staff counselors.
- Support groups: COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 500,000 Americans. Grief support groups led by a professional from your health network can help begin the healing.
Example: MidMichigan Health offers virtual support groups every other week for people who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.
2) De-stigmatize mental health concerns
The stigma of mental illness can make it difficult for people to admit they are struggling or seek help. Now more than ever, use your channels to normalize the feelings people have.
Acknowledge the mental and emotional burdens people face through:
- Editorials: Encourage local news outlets to run an editorial or news story about the pandemic’s effects on mental health. Provide a mental health expert from your organization as a resource.
- Speaker’s bureau: Offer experts to speak virtually to local organizations, including churches, community centers, clubs and service organizations.
- Firsthand accounts: Use your blog to feature patients willing to share their stories. Reading about others’ experiences can reassure people that they’re not alone.
3) Meet them where they’re at
When promoting mental health services, take advantage of a captive audience to effectively advertise mental health services. Communicate with people who have COVID-19 fears or symptoms when they enter your website or facility:
- Display web banners: Place banners prominently on your website and medical record portal to promote your mental health services.
- Offer promotional materials at testing sites and clinics: Advertise service offerings directly to people who come in for testing, a sick visit or the vaccine.
- Use test result letters: When informing people of COVID-19 results, mention your mental health service offerings.
- Partner with school districts: Use school communication channels to inform parents of counseling, support groups and other services.
- Find tweens, teens and young adults on social media: Speaking the language of young adults takes some savvy. Use the channels (e.g., YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram) that tweens, teens and young adults frequent. And be sure to invest in specialized, teen-centric content to avoid being “cringe.”