When it comes to mental health campaigns, getting the target audience right is critically important.
Who should these campaigns be aimed at? How do we know who is most affected by mental illness? And how can we best reach these people with the right messages?
In this article, we will explore the target audience for mental health campaigns and try to answer some of these questions.
What is the Purpose of a Mental Health Campaign?
Before we can dive into who the target audience for mental health campaigns should be, we need to first understand the purpose of these campaigns.
Mental health campaigns can serve a variety of purposes, but most often they are created to raise awareness about mental illness and promote positive messages about mental health.
These campaigns can also be used to destigmatize mental illness and encourage people to seek help if they are struggling.
In some cases, mental health campaigns may also aim to provide education about specific disorders or treatments.
Who is Affected by Mental Illness?
Mental illness does not discriminate. It can affect people of all ages, genders, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults in the United States experiences mental illness in a given year, 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14 and suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 34.
This means that mental illness is actually quite common, yet it is often hidden due to the stigma surrounding it.
Mental illness can also be accompanied by other challenges, such as substance abuse, poverty, and homelessness.
This is why it is so important to tailor mental health campaigns to specific demographics and target audiences.
Who is the Target Audience for Mental Health Campaigns?
To best understand the correct target audience for mental health campaigns we need to understand who is most at risk of mental health issues and then find a way to reach them with messages that, on the one hand, raise awareness of the dangers of mental health problems, and on the other explain how to get treatment.
This gives us the following target audiences for mental health campaigns:
- Adults between 18 and 34 years of age
- Adolescents (and school administrations)
- People with substance abuse tendencies
- People who have experienced trauma
- People with chronic physical illnesses
- Families, friends and loved ones (of all of the above)
Let’s look at each of these audiences for a mental health campaign one by one.
#1 – Adults between 18 and 34 years of age
As we’ve seen in the earlier section, statistics show that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death amongst young adults between the ages of 14 and 34. Overall, 12 million+ people have serious thoughts of suicide each year in the United States.
Out of this group, those under the age of 18 (ie adolescents) are usually still under the care of their parents or guardians, and so we will cover them separately in the next segment.
This leaves us with the age group 18 – 34 which are vulnerable to mental health issues and need to be one of the key targets of any mental health campaign.
#2 – Adolescents (and school administrations)
1 in every 6 adolescents aged 12 – 17 experiences a major depressive episode each year. 3 million adolescents entertain serious thoughts of suicide each year.
Furthermore, as we have seen earlier, 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14. And so reaching this group of people with a mental health campaign is critically important.
One way to reach this target audience for mental health campaigns is through schools. This could involve working with school counselors to create awareness about mental health and how to seek help.
It could also involve creating educational materials for teachers to use in their classrooms.
And finally, it could also involve working with student groups on campus to create peer-to-peer support networks.
Likewise, mental health campaigns can also target parents and guardians of adolescents. This could involve creating awareness about the signs and symptoms of mental illness and how to get help.
It could also involve providing resources and support for parents who might be struggling to cope with a child with mental illness.
In short, adolescents (and their families and schools) are a key target audience for mental health campaigns.
#3 – People with substance abuse tendencies
People with a background or history of substance abuse are another target audience for mental health campaigns.
This is because substance abuse and mental illness often go hand-in-hand. In fact, In 2020, 6.7% of US adults experienced a co-occurrence of substance abuse and mental illness.
And so, targeting people who have a history of substance abuse is one way to reach those who are most at risk of mental health issues.
#4 – People who have experienced trauma
Trauma is one of the triggers for mental health issues, most commonly Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD can occur after experiencing or witnessing a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, a mass shooting, sexual violence, or any other type of traumatic event.
It is estimated that 3.6% of Americans have PTSD.
This means that targeting people who have experienced trauma with a mental health campaign is another way to reach those most at risk for mental health issues.
#5 – People with chronic physical illnesses
Chronic physical illnesses can also lead to mental health problems. This is because chronic illnesses are often accompanied by pain, fatigue, and sleep problems, which can all lead to depression and anxiety.
In fact, it is estimated that people with chronic physical illnesses are twice as likely to experience depression.
And so, mental health campaigns should also target people with chronic physical illnesses so that they are aware of the risks and know where to go to seek help if needed.
#6 – Families, friends and loved ones (of all of the above)
Family, friends and loved ones are the best situated to notice changes in behavior that might be indicative of a mental health problem.
And so, it is important to target them with mental health campaigns so that they are aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for, and know how to best support their loved ones.
This could involve creating awareness materials, hosting workshops or support groups, or providing training on how to best support someone with a mental health problem.
After all, according to NAMI, 8.4 million people in the U.S provide care to an adult with a mental or emotional health problem.
Broadly speaking the target audience for mental health campaigns includes adults between 18 and 34 years of age and adolescents. It also includes parents and school administrations of adolescents.
Specifically, people with substance abuse tendencies, those who have experienced trauma, and people with chronic physical illnesses are also an important target audience for mental health campaigns.
Finally, families, friends and loved ones of all those who are at risk of mental illnesses are an equally important target audience for mental health campaigns.