Out of the Darkness
Great Falls, Montana
Out of the Darkness is a public awareness campaign that was developed by the Montana Mental Health Association (MMHA), a nonprofit group of volunteer citizens concerned with all aspects of mental health and mental illness. The goal of the campaign is to help reduce stigma through enhanced public awareness and education.
An analysis completed by the MMHA in 2004 identified that most awareness trainings were reaching mental health providers, consumers, and advocates who already recognized the problem of mental illnesses and the stigma that perpetuates these illnesses.
MMHA developed a new approach to educating the general public about mental illnesses and stigma by using broadcast and print media to counter stigmatizing beliefs. The campaign included three key elements:
- A long-format video that is part of facilitated discussions on local mental health concerns, available resources, and local needs.
- Radio and TV public service announcements PSAs) aimed at addressing the prevalence of mental illnesses and the devastating effects of stigma.
- The monitoring of print media that discuss mental health and related subjects in order to ensure fair and accurate reporting of these topics.
The MMHA has sponsored and aired more than $500,000 in media placements statewide in just 6 months. Each PSA directs the public to visit the MMHA Web site or call a toll-free number for more information. Since the start of the media campaign, traffic to both of these resources has more than doubled and continues to increase.
Plans for 2006 include the development of a long-format video that addresses childrens mental health issues, followed by a series of PSAs on the same topic. MMHA also has partnered with the Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force to develop a series of PSAs about suicide prevention. MMHA plans to continue monitoring print journalism and will actively seek new partners and funding sources to grow the campaign.
For more information on Out of the Darkness, you may access the MMHA Web site, www.MontanaMentalHealth.org. Additional questions about the campaign can be sent to info@MontanaMentalHealth.org.