InvisALERT Solutions – ObservSMART

Improving Help-Seeking and Reducing Stigma Through Public Messaging

We know that mental health stigma can impact a person’s willingness to reach out for help. They may be afraid of what others will think or feel ashamed that they’re not “strong enough” to deal with a problem on their own. But we also know these thoughts are fueled by stigma, not truth. It’s an issue the NYS Office of Mental Health is eager to combat and shift in our society today. Everyone needs support. We are human with complex needs and emotions. In fact, 1 in 4 of us will struggle with mental health this year. But society has told us that we need to wage war with our minds on our own, and that is the impact of stigma.

Jessica Zahn

Jessica Zahn

But there is hope. We believe we can shift these thoughts and perceptions through public messaging and awareness. We know that consistent and effective public messaging can impact attitudes and behaviors over time. Just like a leaky faucet doesn’t appear to have a big impact in the moment, but over time, those droplets of water create a puddle, and maybe even a divot in the sink from the constant, repetitive impact. We know that creating a public messaging strategy using this “leaky faucet theory” can have a profound impact on the way people feel about mental health, the stigma surrounding it, and the perception of asking for help. However, the message itself is important. The way a message is perceived makes a major impact on the success of a public awareness endeavor. And this is where we need your help.

The Office of Mental Health has been planning a broad effort to improve help-seeking through a widescale public messaging campaign. We want your input on some of the mental health messaging that exists in the world today, so we can better shape our public awareness activities. We also want to understand your current view of stigma, mental wellness, mental illness, and help-seeking. This will help us climb the wall that is holding so many people back from getting the help they need and deserve. This wall of stigma impacts us all, even those who work in the mental health field. So, whether you’re a clinician, a program director, a person who receives mental health services, or someone who is just stumbling across this special edition of Behavioral Health News as a first-time explorer into the topic of stigma – we have a job for you.

Please consider taking 5 minutes out of your day to complete this survey. Your answers will be anonymous and only collective data will be used to shape our future messaging strategy. You’ll have the chance to weigh in on messages, design, and whether you’d share our sample graphics with your friends and followers on social media. In just 5 minutes you can play a role in combatting stigma and shaping NY’s response to it in a major way.

Take the Survey

Jessica Zahn is Director of Marketing at the New York State Office of Mental Health. For more information, email

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