Alabama Statewide Anti-Stigma Campaign
The 2008 Alabama Statewide Anti-Stigma Campaign is a collaborative effort between NAMI Alabama, the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, and pharmaceutical companies Astra Zeneca, BMS, and Lily. This effort is an educational campaign designed to reach the general public, mental health consumers, caregivers, and medical professionals throughout the State of Alabama. The campaign’s theme—“Labels are for boxes, not people”—makes the point that people should not be labeled by their illness
NAMI Alabama and the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation have been aggressively fighting discrimination in Alabama for several years. The goal of the campaign is to change attitudes in the public toward people living with mental illnesses. The commercials developed for the campaign use the premise that when people accept mental illness on an equal footing with other biological illnesses then negative attitudes toward mental illness are significantly reduced.
A series of three television messages were produced and aired on broadcast television stations in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery, thereby reaching virtually all designated market areas in the State. A core buy was purchased and multiple public service announcements bonus spots created additional reach and frequency for the campaign. Several of the spots begin with four people standing around with boxes over their heads. The boxes are labeled “heart disease,” “diabetes,” “cancer,” and “mental illness.” The spots drive home the point that when people get to know each other the labels go away.
This is the fifth year that an Anti-Stigma campaign has aired. In addition to the television campaign, a Mental Health Pavilion is provided at the NBC13 Health and Wellness Festival in Birmingham at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center. An estimated 20,000 people attended the event that provided free health tests and screenings to people throughout central Alabama. The Mental Health Pavilion provided an opportunity to speak one on one with consumers, family members, caregivers, and health care professionals.
In 2007, the Anti-Stigma campaign delivered over 12 million adult impressions, according to Neilson ratings data. The 2008 campaign is still in progress and will deliver even more than last year! In addition to a high frequency television campaign, messages aired on high profile programs such as the season finale of “American Idol.” Television stations throughout the State donated thousands of dollars in air time in addition to the paid messages. The feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. Trained staff members with NAMI Alabama answer the 800 number projected on the screen. To date, hundreds of calls have been received and cataloged by the NAMI operators. Many of the calls were messages of gratitude from consumers or family members for developing a message that helped others see them as a person and not an illness. Other calls related to access to services or questions about mental health subject matter.
For more information on this campaign contact Dr. John Ziegler, Public Information Officer, Alabama Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation at email@example.com or via phone at 334–242–3417.
To view the public service announcements from this campaign as well as other educational and reference materials access the Media Center of the mh.alabama.gov Web site.