By Kristin Villiotte, Vice President, Healthcare, SHIFT Communications and Elisabeth Mozel-Jury, Director, AXON Communications
One of many ripple effects from COVID-19 is the toll living through a pandemic has taken on our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It ranges from stress due to blurring boundaries between work and home life, to a sense of longing from not being able to see loved ones, financial anxiety from losing a job and severe mental health and substance abuse disorders.
The immediate effects of the pandemic are staggering. In a June 2020 survey of U.S. adults, 40.9% reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition. Rates were 3-4x higher than last year. 10.7% reported seriously considering suicide in the last 30 days. The ripple effect doesn’t stop there: mental health conditions can also trigger or exacerbate physical health issues.
Just as demand for mental health support is increasing, access to traditional resources such as counseling, psychotherapy, harm reduction services and many medicines has been hampered. The pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide.
Increased mental health communications and an elevated dialogue around the importance of mental health is one “positive” from the past few months, however. More people are talking about mental health concerns and more companies are innovating ways to support people’s total wellbeing.
Increasing access to mental health – by incorporating it into products, solutions and communications – is critical for healthcare companies as we look toward 2021.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll feature a series exploring the important role health tech brands play in increasing access to mental health support resources. We’ll delve into challenges and considerations for building credibility and becoming a trustworthy provider of information and support. We’ll also spotlight success stories from health tech companies helping drive awareness for mental health issues and improving outcomes for people around the world.
One of the most important of those considerations? Brand authenticity.
Communicating around mental health with authenticity
With 1 in 4 people expected to be diagnosed with a mental health condition in their lifetime – and a clear spotlight on the issue which is feared to compound and grow as the pandemic continues – it’s easy to understand why people are concerned. In light of this, many companies have been asked to use their expertise or focus their efforts into areas that can support finding solutions to these challenges.
In health technology there are thousands of apps and tools available to support mental health and wellbeing. But how do health tech brands raise enough awareness to help people make the right choice for their personal needs?
Is starts with authentic mental health communications:
- Be clear – not every product or service is right for every person, so be clear who it’s for and who it’s not for. What aspect does your technology address and why is that important to the overall picture of mental health and wellbeing?
- Establish credibility – have you proven why your solution is the right choice? Do you have unique expertise? What is your story in mental health? Think about ways to do this beyond the product or offering itself, but also the broader corporate story.
- Be honest – ensure the resource does what you say will do. This means being realistic and not overpromising. Be conscious that there is a spectrum of wellbeing, and while some people may be looking for tools, others may be looking for connection. Contextualize your offering responsibly so as to not build unnecessary expectation.
For more, read the other posts in our Mental Health Communications series:
- Advocates & Alliances for Brand Building
- Keeping Digital Health Literacy Front of Mind
- How Brands Can Cultivate & Lead Important Health Conversations
If you are working in this area and want to discuss your health tech brand and how we can help you to shape and communicate a compelling and credible story, please check out our work and get in touch.