How Mental Health America Harnessed the Power of UGC

Since 1949, the observance of May as Mental Health Awareness Month has reached millions of people with needed information on prevention, education, and early treatment options. The team at Mental Health America works year-round, though, to help people avoid a “stage four” crisis point. This is best achieved by building early awareness among young people, and the best way to reach that population today is through social media.

Take a look at how MHA’s latest hashtag campaign is making big headway in educating the world on mental health and wellness issues.

The sooner a disease is spotted, the better the outcome. That’s true for cancer and it’s true for mental illness. However, symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders often exhibit themselves quietly and go unnoticed until a breaking point is reached. Advocacy group Mental Health America aims to help people identify mental health problems and find treatment early, and social media is where it’s happening.

In 2016, the nonprofit launched the #mentalillnessfeelslike hashtag campaign, inviting the public to share and learn about mental illness. With nearly 30,000 posts so far, MHA publishes these powerful, real-life experiences on its website through TwineSocial’s aggregation and display platform. Hashtag content from major social media networks – like Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, and more – is assembled for moderation, and Twine’s curation tools allow the MHA team to further differentiate posts within the social hub. Topical collection tabs make it easy for guests to view content most relevant to their situation.

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MHA is mindful, however, that simply building awareness isn’t enough. That’s why, amid the testimonials, visitors also find opportunities to take steps toward recovery. Customized Call to Action buttons and Promoted Posts – configured within the Twine dashboard – offer immediate access to online screenings and refer guests to MHA resources beyond the social hub.

But the feature that drew the nonprofit to Twine is what’s perhaps most sensible for a campaign of this nature.

“Mental illness is a very sensitive and personal topic,” MHA Senior Director of Public Education and Visual Communications Danielle Fritze explained. “We thought it was important to allow individuals who don’t necessarily want to ‘out’ themselves to their entire social media networks to still share their personal experiences as well.”

The Post Creator makes that possible. By inviting visitors to post directly to the site, anonymously, and outside of social media, the conversation expands and becomes all the more candid and meaningful. Behind the scenes, that content flows seamlessly into the hub, receiving equal application of moderation and routing rules.

The end result is social integration that’s proved massively successful.

“The number of impressions our content has made is in the millions,” Fritze said. In fact, the project generated so much buzz that another non-profit in the field recently launched a similar hashtag campaign. “As they say,” Fritze noted, “‘Imitation is the greatest form of flattery,’ so we must be doing something right!”

By giving a voice to a community that often struggles silently, MHA’s attentiveness to social media illustrates what’s possible. Greater connection, access to the latest resources, a forum for families to share concerns and feedback directly to the organization – in these ways and more, MHA makes the world a stronger, healthier place one social post at a time. We think that’s great work worth celebrating.

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