Three communications ideas from the Scottish mental health organisations – Insights to anti-stigma campaigns, open source resources, and local mental health websites

"Finnish mental health organisations can learn a lot from Scottish anti-stigma campaigning and digital services," writes communications specialist Lauri Hovi from the Finnish Association for Mental Health.

Lauri Hovi.

When it comes to mental health and anti-stigma communications, Scotland and Finland are pretty similar despite some differences in the service system and NGO funding. Both are well-developed western countries, in which attitudes towards mental well-being have improved rapidly in the past years.

I work as a communication specialist in the Finnish Association for Mental Health (FAMH). A two week work exchange as a part of CRISP partnership in May 2018 gave me an opportunity meet Scottish professionals in the field of mental health promotion and communications. We had interesting conversations and I came back to Helsinki with a notebook full of ideas on how to develop our communications work in FAMH.

Let me introduce three ideas that I think we should politely steal:

  1. See Me programme does wonderful anti-stigma campaigning. Their campaign planning begins with listening carefully to the needs of the target group. For example their It’s Ok campaign reached out to young people and those who care about them by making a statement that it's okay to not feel okay. They started building the campaign by doing a large online survey to youth about mental health and stigma. After that they did several workshops with groups of young people with the assistance of a creative agency. Although this kind of marketing planning is common in commercial organizations, the Finnish NGOs do not do this much. At FAMH we could shift our campaign planning more to this direction – carefully listening to our targets from the beginning.
  2. Ayemind toolkit for youth workers. An open source toolkit is a great resource to support using digital approaches to youth mental health. The toolkit consists of practical information, case studies, online resources and reflection material for anyone interested in learning more about new technology, health and wellbeing. There would definitely be a demand for this kind of material in Finland.
  3. Edspace and three other regional information websites. These location-based mental health service and resource websites were introduced to me at an E-Mental Health Conference in Edinburgh. Edspace, Midspace, Eastspace and Westspace are super user-friendly websites, where you can find information about the mental health services available on your own area. In addition to  the local services, Edspace also contains factsheets, guides, and self-help materials, for example. The big question is how to keep all the data up to date? The need for constant updating of database is solved by using volunteers. The site itself is technically a simple Wordpress site.

In addition to these ideas presented above, I had tens of inspiring conversations and encounters. For example, we will have to look more deeply into See Me programme’s content for workplace, especially the cost calculator and Mental Health Check staff survey. Also conversation with the Mental Health Foundation’s communications professionals was very interesting, since we can learn a lot from their exceptionally good presence in social media.

I am looking forward to visiting sunny Scotland again in 2019!

Lauri Hovi

You can find me on Twitter and on Linkedin

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