October is typically when we talk about the monsters under the bed and the ones in our heads.
In the world of public relations (PR), there is a natural inclination to synchronise campaigns and efforts with calendar moments. October’s World Mental Health Awareness month is no exception – it serves as a powerful launchpad, capturing attention and resources towards an issue that deserves consistent focus.
However, our impact as PR practitioners extends far beyond a single month, which is why it is time to integrate mental health conversations seamlessly throughout the year. By weaving these discussions into narratives and strategies, we transform sporadic bursts of awareness into an ongoing dialogue.
Normalising the conversation
In our day-to-day work, PR practitioners collaborate closely with the media to help them develop feature stories that are valuable to their audiences. These stories can become a potent tool in reshaping societal perceptions. For instance, if the media were to feature more stories of everyday Singaporeans benefiting from therapy, it could effectively address the stigma around seeking therapy.
In spotlighting these narratives and showcasing diverse individuals navigating mental wellness, the media can normalise therapy and communicate the message that seeking help is a proactive and positive step towards well-being.
This is what we did in September for Bumble. Using survey findings, Mutant worked closely with reporters at The Straits Times to pitch a feature story on how going to therapy is regarded as a “green flag” by Singaporean milennials and Gen Zs. The survey itself found that more than half (51 per cent) believed that those who have gone through therapy are working on themselves in positive ways.
About 29 per cent thought it was important for their potential partner to be in therapy or have gone through therapy. The feature story talked about how going to therapy might have been a red or beige flag in the past, but it’s now seen as a green flag for millennials and Gen Zs as it indicates that an individual is keen to do the work and grow as a person and be a better partner.
Increasing the visibility of such stories within the media fosters a more open and understanding community, encouraging others to consider therapy as a viable and beneficial option without fear of judgement.
Driving a deeper discussion
In the wake of the pandemic, more people are talking about mental health in the media. And while early conversations focused on raising awareness, there’s a growing need for more depth and impact, including nuanced perspectives, diverse experiences and solutions.
With this in mind, we proposed a media luncheon for our client, Intellect, Asia’s largest mental health care company to share more about Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) in November.
MHFA is an evidence-based toolkit that empowers employees, managers, leaders, and individuals to take concrete steps in effectively supporting those with mental health problems – but its existence and advantages are relatively unknown in Asia. The interactive, role-play based media lunch was the perfect example to share more about MHFA, encouraging many of the reporters to learn more.
Here, PR emerges as a crucial educational tool in steering a deeper, more informed discussion, specifically within Singapore’s context.
Driving tangible action
Social listening is part of the daily rhythm of any PR practitioner. It offers valuable insights beyond traditional media monitoring and should not be underestimated. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, social media platforms serve as a rich repository of public sentiment, opinions, and trends. PR practitioners should harness the power of social listening to gauge real-time reactions, identify emerging conversations and get a sense of the pulse of audiences on various topics, including mental health.
That’s exactly what The Hong Kong Jockey Club Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention (CSRP) did. Using Meltwater’s social listening tools, CSRP is able to track and analyse entities and issues related to suicide ideation on social media and forums. Through a database that records cases of suicide, as well as historical information on suicide, they can identify risk factors. The vast majority of CSRP’s time is devoted to analysing chatter on suicide and sharing relevant information to their target audience of educators, public officials and social workers, helping them quickly detect warning signs.
Although this is a unique case, it goes to show that PR can drive tangible call-to-actions by fostering discussion and driving actionable change. Through strategic communications, PR professionals can skillfully craft campaigns and initiatives that not only raise awareness but also drive tangible call-to-actions. Whether advocating for policy changes, promoting access to mental health resources, or encouraging societal shifts in attitudes, PR has the power to mobilise audiences toward meaningful action.
Need a PR agency or content creation agency to help you craft a strong communications strategy to achieve meaningful action? Talk to us at [email protected].