I. INTRODUCTION This publication contains a detailed and comprehensive public relations campaign that was created and executed by Creative Communications for the West Alabama Mental Health Center. This plan provides the West Alabama Mental Health Center with a clear and specific campaign strategy that was aimed at increasing awareness of both mental health issues and the resources available through the West Alabama Mental Health Center, to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and to increase treatment seeking behavior among parents for their children and children ages 10-13 in Marengo County. The West Alabama Mental Health Center is a non-profit organization set to â€œprovide effective mental health services to individuals meeting eligibility requirements regardless of ability to payâ€? with a vision to â€œexplore ways to flex services and utilize community resources to promote consumer access to necessary and beneficial services. The center offers services and programs regarding mental health illnesses, a toll free care line, individual and group therapy and free health screenings and referrals courtesy of their mobile unit (West Alabama Mental Health Center). Because of this, it would be a great opportunity to help an organization that is helpful and needed in order to assure that our children, the face of our future, have a stable environment to grow up in and are aware of how to keep their minds healthy. Through careful research and program implementation, Creative Communications has set several objects. Although this campaign was performed in a very short amount of time, we feel that the results suggest that if the current programming and evaluation were continued, the goals set would steadily be reached. This report not only provides extensive insight into the reasoning behind the campaign and its intended purpose, but also provides detailed research on both the target audiences and the client itself. Based on this research, a comprehensive programming plan was established and a detailed plan of implementation is outlined. Then an evaluation was performed that allowed us to measure the success of our campaign. This information should allow the reader to envision and follow along with this project from beginning to end. This was a wonderful experience and a great opportunity for Creative Communications and we would like to recognize and sincerely thank everyone who helped to make our campaign a success. We hope that some of these ideas and tactics can help the West Alabama Mental Health Center for years to come.
II. RESEARCH a. Client The WAMHC is a non-profit organization that is a direct result of the Alabama Legislation passing Act 310 in 1967. The Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation authorized the formation of regional mental health boards, forming the 310 Board of West Alabama. The board is made up of three volunteers from each of the five counties in West Alabama. The 310 Board incorporated the WAMHC in 1969 for Choctaw, Greene, Hale, Sumter and Marengo Counties (Dept. of Mental Health and Mental Retardation Adm. Code). The mission of WAMHC is to “provide effective mental health services to individuals meeting eligibility requirements regardless of ability to pay” and their vision is to “explore ways to flex services and utilize community resources to promote consumer access to necessary and beneficial services.” The center offers services and programs regarding mental health illnesses, a toll free care line, individual and group therapy and free health screenings and referrals courtesy of their mobile unit (West Alabama Mental Health Center). The strengths of the WAMHC are that they have been a successful establishment for many years. As a result of that they provide services to the citizens in surrounding areas. The WAMHC has had problems in the past maintaining staff and coming up with funding. The WAMHC does not have any competitors in close proximity to them, but the stigma associated with mental health illness has made it difficult for patients to feel comfortable to seek help (Moore). b. Opportunity and Problem Research i.
Reactive: Due to the fact that a stigma about mental health issues exists, this was a reactive campaign. We attempted to increase awareness about the WAMHC and its resources available, while reducing the stigma associated with mental illness, specifically among children ages 10-13.
Long Term: To bring awareness about WAMHC and to reduce the stigma that is associated with mental illness this campaign had long-term goals. Although some of the methods used were short-term, including the program implementation that was October 27, 2009, they are only a small part of a much larger long-term plan.
Problem 1. Stigma: There are serious issues relating to the stigma that surrounds mental health issues in general. On a much larger scale are the issues children ages 10-13 face surrounding that same stigma. According to National Alliance on Mental Illness, children with mental illnesses usually become the center for criticism, ridicule and rejection (Childrenâ€™s Issues). Because many adults are afraid of mental health, it carries on in children, who in turn may shun classmates and friends who might have a problem that they should be seeking help for. 2. Awareness: Another major issue associated with mental health was the lack of awareness of mental health issues and the resources available to help with them. Many parents were not aware of the fact that WAMHC has a mobile unit that comes to rural areas that would otherwise have problems getting to a clinic outside of the city. Before being aware of what mental health issues are, children did not know what signs to look for or what to do if they feel they have a problem.
c. Audience Research Our research showed that in rural communities, especially among the adolescent population, negative attributes or a stigma are commonly associated with individuals with mental health problems. Preteens, especially those ages 10 to 13 years old, have misunderstandings and misconceptions of what mental health is. Unless these children are educated with facts early they will continue to feed the stigma that has caused countless individuals from getting the help they need. In fact, stigma is one of the biggest reasons that only one in five of the nine million children suffering from serious emotional problems in our country are getting the help that they need (SAMHSA 2009). i.
Parents 1. Primary Research a. Survey 1: We distributed our first survey to parents attending the â€œSmiling Faces Going Placesâ€? awareness event as they arrived and they turned them in as they finished. We received survey responses from all event attendees. Our questions revolved around their knowledge of WAMHC and mental health, their attitudes toward children experiencing mental health issues, and how they heard about the event. It included a personal information section in order for us to gather addresses and email 9
addresses. It also gave them an opportunity to sign up for the quarterly newsletter update on “Smiling Faces Going Places.”(See Appendix K for an example of the survey) We found that two out of the five parents who filled out the survey did not know about the WAMHC prior to our event. The data showed that out of the 5 parents in attendance, 60% of the parents found out about the event from the fliers we distributed. Our surveys also showed that the majority of the parents who attended had a good understand of what mental health, and what to look for when a child is showing signs of a mental health illness. The data collected from the five parents showed that in response to the hypothetical story, 60% of the parents did not feel that Jane was lazy, troublesome, smarter or more violent than her peers, but 57% of the parents would be concerned if Jane were their own child. (See Appendix L for the survey results summary) b. Survey 2: The second survey, which was used for evaluation purposes, was placed in favor bags that were given to the children that attended the “Smiling Faces Going Places” awareness event. It included a stamped envelope for their convenience. Our questions revolved around their knowledge of WAMHC and mental health and their attitude toward children with mental health issues. We used the information gathered to determine if and to what degree parents retained information, changed their beliefs about mental health, and had a positive experience at the “Smiling Faces Going Places” event. (See Appendix Ofor an example of the survey) We received three of the five surveys back and found that many of the parents did learn new information about mental health illness. (See Appendix P for the survey results summary)
2. Secondary Research Parents also play a significant role in the promotion of mental health education among adolescence. However, adults in rural counties with children are also fighting the stigma toward mental health. In addition, even parents who are able to personally discredit the stigma, there are several other issues that may prevent them from seeking treatment for their child or for themselves even when it’s needed. For example, just because one parent doesn’t believe the stigma, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t aware of it. Furthermore, because of “small town gossip,” many rural families 10
would rather keep any mental issues hidden. Another reason parents may be reluctant to treatment for their child or for themselves may be because of financial circumstances. Not only do many families want to avoid the potential cost of treatment, transportation can also be a notable problem in rural communities (NARMH 2009).
Preteens 1. Primary Research a. Survey 1: We distributed our first survey to children who attended the “Smiling Faces Going Places” awareness event as they arrived and they turned them in once they were completed to receive their gift bag. Our questions revolved around their knowledge mental health and where to seek help, their attitude toward other children with mental health issues and how they heard about the event. (See Appendix I for an example of the survey) We received 14 surveys back, from each of the children who attended our event. We found that the majority of the children had a good understanding of what mental health illness is. We also found that 58% of the children attending the event would go to their family before talking to a friend or councilor if they were having a bad day. The data showed that in response to the hypothetical story given, 43% believe that Jane was smarter than her peers, and 53% would have invited her to sit with them at lunch. We also found that half of the children attending found out about the event from the fliers we distributed. (See Appendix J for the results of the survey) b. Survey 2: The second survey, which was used for evaluation purposes, was placed in favor bags given to children attending the “Smiling Faces Going Places” awareness event. It included a stamped envelope for convenience. Our questions revolved around their knowledge of mental health and where to seek help, their attitudes toward other children with mental health issues and their perceptions of the event. We used the information gathered to determine if and to what degree children retained information, changed their beliefs about mental health and had a positive experience at the “Smiling Faces Going Places” event. (See Appendix M for an example of the survey) We received seven surveys back from the 11
children that attended the event. Our data showed that the children did learn and retain information about mental health illness and how to treat their peers that might be suffering from this illness. (See Appendix N for the results of the survey)
2. Secondary Research Whether they are uninformed or misinformed, the majority of adolescence have a huge misunderstanding concerning the issues surrounding mental heath. Many preteens misconceive the behaviors as well as the magnitude of behavior associated with victims of mental health problems. For example, two of the most common emotional and behavioral disorders among youth are ADHD and depression. Furthermore, a study conducted by the Portland Research and Training Center indicated that these two mental issues are the most stigmatized throughout the adolescent community, depression ranking higher than ADHD. The study suggested that children with depression or ADHD were viewed by peers to be more â€œdangerous and violent.â€? However in reality, the likelihood of violence, as well as antisocial behavior, is much less common than the common adolescent misconception. These could be significant findings considering that past findings have linked the perception of danger with social distancing (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2008).
III. OBJECTIVES Creative Communications’ main goal is to create, promote and maintain awareness of all mental health issues among children, ages 10-13. To creative a positive view, we named our campaign “Smiling Faces Going Places”. In this campaign, our efforts are geared toward making sure the parents and children in Marengo county know that West Alabama Mental Health Association is available to help any special needs that the children may have pertaining to the children’s mental health, and that parents or children do not hesitate to ask for assistance. Also, there has a been a negative connotation associated with the words “mental health”, and another objective of Creative Communications is to erase that stigma and show that these issues are not a rarity, but a matter that a great deal of children deal with on a day to day basis. a. Informational •
To Increase awareness of mental health issues by 10% among children ages 10-13 in Marengo County by 11-15-09
To increase awareness of the resources available through WAMHC by 20% among parents of children ages 10-13 in Marengo County by 11-15-09
b. Attitudinal •
To reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues by 10% among children ages 10-13 in Marengo County by 11-15-09
To reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues by 10% among parents of children ages 10-13 in Marengo County by 11-15-09
c. Behavioral •
To increase the treatment seeking behavior by children ages 10-13 in Marengo County by 10% by 11-15-09
To increase the treatment seeking behavior of parents for their children ages 10-13 in Marengo County by 10% by 11-15-09
d. Output Objectives •
To design and distribute 100 brochures to event attendees by 10-27-09
To mail newsletter to all event attendees by 10-29-09
To distribute PSA to radio stations by 10-7-09 13
To distribute news release to 1 newspaper by 10-7-09
To distribute 400 fliers to Marengo County schools by 10-23-09
To design and distribute fact cards to event attendees by 10-27-09
To mail thank you letters to all event attendees by 10-29-09
IV. PROGRAMMING a. Theme As previously stated, the theme of the entire campaign is “Smiling Faces Going Places”. We’ve set to seek after a primary target: Children, and a secondary target: Parents. For the children, the key message is “you can be anything you want to be when your mind is healthy”. For the parents, it is “healthy minds form healthy families.” Positivity and good mental health is the primary feel we want everyone involved to see in the campaign. By having speakers at our event, their ability to counsel children showed parents that there are people that care about children and their mental health, and that is of higher importance than many people see on the surface. It also showed the children that there are people willing to help them a great deal. Since the campaign was for children, we included things such as goody bags and Big Al to maintain positivity within the campaign. b. Special Event The “Smiling Faces Going Places special event was held on October 27th at the Demopolis Civic Center, in order to promote the awareness of mental health issues, change the attitudes towards the issues, and help people understand the need to act and start getting the proper help that children need from WAMHC’s facilities. The event had a turnout of 14 children and 7 parents and really felt like we got the message across the children and parents who attended. We had everyone fill out a survey with an incentive of a goody bag with an Alabama Football collector’s item, candy and “Smiling Faces Going Places” stickers inside. We had positive feedback from the parents who attended. We also had Big Al, The University of Alabama mascot, for the children and parents to take pictures with. For the main part of the event, we had two counselors from West Alabama Mental Health Center come and speak to the children about the importance of a healthy mind, why they should always tell someone if they suspect another child or the children themselves are having difficulties with their mental health. Overall, the event was a success. We have data to support the evaluation and positive feedback from the surveys we handed out prior to and after the event. (See Appendices J, L, N and P for detailed data results) Our group participated in the event by wearing “Smiling Faces Going Places” t-shirts and taking pictures with the children and Big Al. (See Appendix W for pictures from the event) i. Goody Bags- To help create more positivity we handed out goody bags with candy, an Alabama Football collector’s item, stickers and a survey. This was essential as an incentive to have the children and parents fill out the surveys. (See Appendices I and K for surveys)
ii. Big Al- We asked Big Al to come the event and take pictures with the children to help draw more local people in to the event. He was a big hit and was loved and appreciated by everyone there. He also provided entertainment for the children before the speakers began to talk. iii. WAMHC Counselors- Two counselors from West Alabama Mental Health Association came to our event and spoke with the children about mental health issues. They were interactive with children and used the scenario within the first survey to get a better understanding of what the children saw among other children as far as mental health was concerned. c. Controlled Media The controlled media was a vital part in the execution of the campaign. The materials we sent out helped promote our event and included detailed information about who we were targeting in the event, what the event was about, when it was, where it was held and why we were holding. Not only did the materials hold information stating the significance of the event, but also the benefits for the children and parents if they attended (e.g. pictures with Big Al and goody bags with an Alabama Football collectorâ€™s item). Below is a detailed list of the controlled media and materials distributed. i.
On October 21, an email containing our flier was sent to two Linden County schools to promote our event held in Demopolis. On October 23 we drove to Demopolis and Linden to hand out 75 fliers to each of the total four schools we were targeting. The fliers contained all the information about the event (e.g. who, what, when, where, why). (See Appendix Q for flier design)
To help spread the word about mental health issues among children, we included fact cards and brochures with details on mental health issues in the childrenâ€™s goody bags. (See Appendices T and U for fact card design)
d. Uncontrolled Media i.
A news release promoting our event was sent to and published in the Demopolis Times, and contained all information pertaining to the event. The News Release was sent October 7th, 2009 in order to give people plenty of time to plan for the event. (See Appendix R for news release)
A public service announcement was sent to 14 local radio stations in Marengo County on October 7th, 2009. The PSA was aired by at least nine stations in the area. We used the voice of Tom Roberts of the Crimson Tide Sports Network to help create awareness of mental health issues among children and promoting the event being held. (See Appendix S for PSA script) 16
V. EVALUATION a. Informational Objectives In a successful attempt to promote mental wellness in children ages 10-13, the “Smiling Faces Going Places” campaign surpassed all set objectives except one. In order to measure both parents’ and children’s awareness of mental health, guests at the special event were asked to fill out a survey prior to the informational presentation and return a second survey via mail after attending the event. (See Appendices I, K, M and O for examples of the surveys) Our sample size for the second survey was smaller than the first due to lack of event attendee participation in turning in the survey, but the replies we received were positive. In the first survey, parents were asked if they were aware of the West Alabama Mental Health Center and three out of the five adults at the event answered that they were not. (See Appendix L for data results) Both surveys asked parents and children to define mental health, so that we were able to make a quantitative comparison of their awareness before and after implementation of the campaign. Our goal of increasing awareness of mental health in children by 10% was far exceeded by the 50% increase that was incurred. (See Appendix D for chart with this information) Prior to the event, four children supplied a correct definition out of the 14 in attendance. After the event, three out of seven children answered correct. (See Appendices J and N for more detailed data) We set our informational objective of increasing awareness in parents at 10% higher than our goal for children in hopes that they would be able to retain our message. We did not reach our goal of a 20% increase in parent’s awareness of mental health, but we did record a slightly lower increase of 11%. (See Appendix E for a chart of this data) Three out of the five of the parents at the event provided correct definitions of mental health, while two of the three post event surveys we received correctly defined mental health. (See Appendices L and P for more detailed data) It is possible that the small sample size greatly contributed to our failure to meet this objective. b. Attitudinal Objectives The surveys before and after our event were also used to measure the campaign’s effectiveness in decreasing the stigma associated with mental health. Both parents and children were asked to read a short story about a hypothetical girl named Jane who is exhibiting symptoms of a mental health disorder. (See Appendix I to read the story in full) They were then asked to select some adjectives from a list of choices that they felt described Jane. Children were also asked how they would treat Jane if she were their classmate, and parents were asked how they would feel if Jane were their child. The same scenario, questions, and answer options were on the pre and post surveys for comparison purposes. (See Appendices I, K, M and O for survey questions) 17
Our proposed goal was to decrease mental health stigma by 10% in both parents and children ages 10-13. After implementing our campaign, we observed a 24% decrease in stigma among children and a 50% decrease among their parents. (See Appendix F and G for charts containing this data) Before hearing the councilors’ presentation, 19 of the children’s remarks concerning their feelings toward Jane were positive while 12 remarks were negative. 16 Positive and only five negative attitudes were expressed by children on the post-event survey. (See Appendix N for more detailed data) Parents expressed five positive and seven negative reactions towards Jane on their pre event survey and five positive and only three negative answers to the same questions on their second survey (See Appendix P for more detailed data) c. Behavioral Objectives The final goal we wanted to achieve through the “Smiling Faces Going Places” campaign was in increase children’s use of the resources available at the West Alabama Mental Health Center. In order to measure this change, we collected the data needed from Patricia Moore. Prior to our campaign, 158 children between the ages of 10 and 13 were seeking treatment from the West Alabama Mental Health Center. By the close of our campaign this number increased 42%, far beyond our goal of a 10% increase in treatment seeking behavior, and 66 new adolescent patients are using the West Alabama Mental Health Center to reach their best potential. (See Appendix H for a chart of this data) d. Output Objectives In order to evaluate the success of our uncontrolled media materials, we tracked media coverage of our news release and public service announcement. We sent our news release to The Demopolis Times, and it was published in their newspaper serving the West Alabama community. We provided 14 local radio stations with our public service announcement, nine of which played the PSA on air at least three times per day from October 19th-October 27th at no charge to our organization. (See Appendix C for campaign results data) All controlled media materials were successfully designed and distributed in accordance with the objective dates. (See Appendix A for final calendar) 400 fliers were distributed amongst four Marengo County schools on October 23, and proved to be the most effective source of promotion for the special event. Event guests were asked how they found out about the event on the first survey they completed. 10 guests reported they became aware of the event by seeing a flier, five heard about it from a family member and one read about it in The Demopolis Times. (See Appendices J and L for detailed data information) 100 brochures and fact cards were placed in goodie bags for event attendees. Left over bags were distributed throughout the community by the WAMHC mobile unit. Thank you letters were sent to all seven attendees, the Demopolis Town Hall and the 18
University of Alabama Athletic Department. Newsletters were sent to the two event attendees who requested further contact.
VI. STEWARDSHIP a. After the â€œSmiling Faces Going Placesâ€? event, thank you letters were mailed to attendees to promote a lasting relationship with the West Alabama Mental Health Center. The letters also included the WAMHC contact information to encourage future use of its services. (See Appendix HH) b. Thank you letters were also sent to the University of Alabama Athletic Department to show appreciation of their donations.
c. Newsletters were mailed to event attendees who requested further information in order to keep them informed on what is happening at the WAMHC (See Appendix FF for newsletter)
VII. CONCLUSION The West Alabama Mental Health Center is a non-profit organization with a vital impact on the communities they serve. We found through our research that much of our target audiences, both parents and their children ages 10-13 in Marengo County were not aware of the services that the West Alabama Mental Health Center has to offer for them and are also surrounded by a stigma that is associated with mental illness. At this age children are still developing both mentally and physically and are also very easily influenced. This is why we wanted to raise awareness about the services the West Alabama Mental Health Center offers for our target audiences, reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and to increase treatment seeking behaviors in parents for their children. We feel that these goals were accomplished. Our post-event surveys proved that stigma was reduced, if only slightly and that awareness was increased by a larger percent. A comparison of attendance records from before our and event and after show an increase of 66 children ages 10-13, which shows we accomplished our goal of increases treatment seeking behavior.
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