The MDABC is currently working on phase one of a three-phase project to create and implement a mental health awareness campaign which specifically targets young adults ages 18 to 30. Phase one of the project is the research phase and so far, what we have found out is very enlightening. Evidence shows that the typical onset of a first episode of a mental health issue takes place in the late teens or early adulthood and yet many young people do not reach out for help. If they do reach out for help, it is most often to a peer or friend. While friends can certainly offer support and an attentive ear, more education is needed so that friends can help steer the person in distress to get the kind of help that they need.
On Thursday, June 16th, 2016 , lead project researcher Anisa Mottahed held a focus group, which involved individuals within the 18-30 age range who were not connected to any mental health services. Through the focus group, MDABC gathered information to help inform the campaign. We wanted to know what the young people liked, what they didn’t like, what kind of mental health campaigns stood out to them, and how much time (if any), they would be willing to put in to show their support for this kind of campaign.
A few preliminary observations from the focus group were:
- the young people preferred mostly visual information as opposed to mostly text
- Most of the participants were willing to share campaign materials on facebook, instagram, and twitter but they weren’t interested in sharing anything of a personal nature
- they weren’t impressed by having a celebrity or sports-figure included in the campaign unless that person was sharing an authentic personal story
- they noted that they are bombarded by promotional materials from so many different companies and agencies, so a campaign has to be simple, direct, and original to stand out. The majority also appreciated the campaign we showed them that used humour to engage people.
- they said that they would be interested in watching a short video associated with the campaign as long as it was under two minutes
- a couple of the participants mentioned that they had friends with mental health concerns who had leaned on them and that they had tried to help. They noted that they didn’t really know how to help and that caring for their friend took an emotional toll on them as well…
Once we have concluded the first phase of the project, we will begin to actually develop our own original campaign. Stay tuned for updates!