Social marketing campaigns aim to help students to seek help for anxiety, stress
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The University of Florida’s Counseling and Wellness Center has launched the fall 2014 designs for the UFlourish Social Marketing Campaign in collaboration with GatorWell Health Promotion Services.
This comprehensive campaign is funded by a three-year, $296,000 federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The campaign aims to remove stigmas about seeking help for mental health issues and encourages the use of preventive strategies to help students manage their stress.
Anxiety is the predominant concern among college students. According to the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors’ 2013 annual survey, 46.2 percent of students struggle with anxiety, while 39.3 percent of students deal with depression.
“Nationally, almost a quarter of students don’t believe they receive the emotional help and support needed from their families, friends and acquaintances,” said Shari Robinson, interim director of UF’s Counseling and Wellness Center. “That’s why social marketing campaigns, like UFlourish, are essential on college campuses to address the need for decreased stigma and increased social support for students dealing with mental health concerns.”
During the fall 2014 semester, the UFlourish campaign will target two student groups that exhibit higher levels of stigma with regards to seeking help: the LGBTQ student community and the black student community. Student advisory committees representing each community were formed to help develop the message designs. Feedback from UF students gathered through focus groups and surveys was also used in the development process. Both committees chose to focus their designs on reducing stigma surrounding talking about mental health concerns, as well as stigmas regarding asking for help.
The UFlourish LGBTQ student community designs encourage students to reduce mental health stigma by talking to friends, partners and family about stress and reaching out to them as well as UF faculty and staff to ask for help or to help someone else when needed.
The UFlourish black student community designs encourage students to “Keep it Real” with each other to help reduce mental health stigma within the black community at UF. These designs empower students to talk to each other about stress and other mental health concerns, help each other, ask for help from a friend or campus professional when needed and keep it positive.
For each spring and fall semester of the three-year campaign, a new set of messages targeting various student populations will be created and released. Baseline data regarding students’ perceptions of stigma was collected in February 2013 via randomized surveys before the launch of the campaign, and follow-up surveys will be conducted throughout the campaign to measure effectiveness. Focus groups will also be conducted at the end of specific phases to gather student feedback for campaign improvement.
The Counseling and Wellness Center and GatorWell Health Promotion Services are departments within the Division of Student Affairs. Visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/UFlourish for more information.
Sara Martin, Health Promotion Specialist at GatorWell Health Promotion Services, 352-273-4454, firstname.lastname@example.org