Studies show that one in five Americans will experience a mental health condition this year, and 50 percent will experience one in their lifetime. For Mental Health Awareness Month, we worked with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to mobilize its community to demanding more for mental health, both online and off.
Mental health resources are not widely accessible in the United States, and require legislation to improve funding and access. Lack of mental health support can lead to suicidal ideation and death, especially in vulnerable or marginalized populations. Although discussions of mental health have become more accepted in recent years, this openness has not translated into political advocacy or direct calls for change.
Thousands of individuals self-identify as advocates for mental health, and may even work for social change on a personal level, such as putting “mental health advocate” in their social media bios or sparking conversations within their peer groups. But most do not actively participate on a civic level – whether community, local, state, or federal – or even know where to start.
In collaboration with the AFSP team, we created the campaign rallying cry #MoreForMentalHealth, and an overall narrative focused on demands for five key items needed to improve mental health for all of us. Capturing the urgency and the determination of this important advocacy, we designed a bold campaign that utilizes vibrant contrasting colors and a variable font set in all-caps that stretches and condenses to allow headlines and demands to fill the space with the demands as large, loud, and proud as possible. The campaign microsite includes a custom demand-artwork “generator” – encouraging participation through personalization, with user control over message and visuals – that produces shareable digital posts to amplify the community’s calls to action. To make it easy to get started in advocacy, the site includes clear links for finding local events and supporting key legislation, alongside a Public Policy Action Center that facilitates contacting your government representatives directly. The campaign launched with an open letter published in the New York Times featuring leading mental health organizations partnering in the call for legislative change. Throughout the month, ongoing efforts were focused online, with regular posts across AFSP social media channels, and in collaboration with influencers and brand partners, including internationally acclaimed writer and performer ALOK.
Through the advocacy awareness and education championed by the campaign, thousands of mental health advocates were galvanized to make real demands both online and direct to legislators, converting passive support to active participation. Over 8,000 letters were sent to Congress and media outlets, and over 1,500 people signed up to become AFSP Field Advocates.