Fort Worth, Texas
The Friendship Counts campaign is the most recent anti-stigma campaign that was launched in late 2008 by the Mental Health Connection of Tarrant County and Community Solutions of Fort Worth. The campaign aims to communicate with 6th through 12th graders, through the use of a campaign Web site (www.friendshipscount.com), YouTube video, posters, and bookmarks.
The Social Marketing Committee for the Fort Worth System of Care decided it would be difficult to interest the community in changing the system while stigma prevailed. Therefore, it decided to focus its social marketing efforts on anti-stigma messages. The campaign focuses on adolescents in grades 6 through 12 because more young people in this age group are being diagnosed with key illnesses.
The Friendship Counts campaign focuses on attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, and depression because each is different from the others in symptoms and treatments. Young people were involved in the development of this campaign and adolescents with and without the specific disorders reviewed the messages on the posters and bookmarks, giving invaluable feedback as the campaign developed. The YouTube video was written by a high school senior who has a sister with a mood disorder. She is the female singer on the video. The young man who sings with her has a sister with bipolar disorder. All of the models are local high school students who volunteered their time and images. The Friendships Counts campaign builds on a previous campaign—Open Minds Open Doors—which kicked off in 2005.
The goal of the campaign is to reduce stigma, which is one of the greatest barriers for people who need help, and the campaign directed its message to young people. Because adolescents reviewed the materials, modeled for it, and even created the song for the video, the campaign became a message to young people from young people.
Between the launch of the campaign in early December and the end of March, schools ordered more than 1,000 of each poster and more than 52,500 of each of the 4 bookmarks. The Friendships Counts Web site had 1,040 visitors and almost 19,000 hits in the same timeframe. The YouTube video had almost 600 views. Articles appeared in the local newspaper and in one of the involved student’s high school papers. Viewership of the video and visitors to the Web site spiked each time these articles appeared.
Additional Information: Community Solutions of Fort Worth was a 6-year System of Care grant agency funded as a cooperative agreement with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Mental Health Connection is a collaboration of public and private agencies as well as individuals who need mental health care services and their caregivers. Mental Health Connection works to revolutionize the mental health service delivery system, with a vision of creating No Wrong Door to the Right Mental Health Resources.
For further information on the Friendship Counts campaign contact Kay Barkin, Social Marketing Cooridinator, Mental Health Association of Tarrant County at 682–432–1097 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.