Suicide Prevention Month is recognized annually each September, providing an essential reminder of the role of mental health services and clinicians in promoting mental health and wellness throughout the community and helping to prevent suicide ideation and related mental health conditions.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicide is the 11th leading cause of death nationwide. In 2021, more than 48,000 people died by suicide in the United States, with approximately 1.7 million suicide attempts that year.

The suicide rate reached a historic high in 2018 and then declined slightly. However, suicide rates began to increase again in 2020 sharply. This growing public health concern is responsible for about 800,000 deaths globally each year.

Raising Awareness About the Impact of Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) on Mental Health and Suicide Rates

Social Determinants of Health play a large role in overall mental health. SDOH consists of the quality of the environments where people are born, live, play, go to school, worship, and work. These factors are generally in one of 5 groups:

  • Economic Stability
  • Education Access and Quality
  • Healthcare Access and Quality
  • Neighborhood and Built Environment
  • Social and Community Context

Engaging Consumers via Multiple Content Channels with Compassion and Care

Communicating about mental health issues and related services requires different care and consideration when crafting your content, beyond what's needed when creating content for other types of health services.

Messaging about mental health entails more than simply informing people about your services. In the mental health space, you have an opportunity to make an important difference in someone's life, just through your messaging. Your content could be life-changing for someone. Your content could help provide support, solidarity, and a sense of community.

Media Channels for Mental Health Content & SDOH Awareness

Prospective mental health patients are virtually everywhere, so utilizing a variety of multiple media channels is key to reaching the most people with your mental health messaging and services.

  • Traditional media - TV, Radio, Print - Paid or earned placements in traditional media
  • Social Media - Digital Channels - YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin
  • Blogs and articles - Case studies, educational and informative content, coping strategies, etc.
  • Podcasts, Webinars, etc.
  • Website
  • Community Events
  • User-generated content - patient stories, journeys and challenges with mental health

How can you help raise awareness of SDOH and thus prompt action regarding the impact of SDOH on mental wellbeing and suicide rates?

Close up image of a medical professional in a white coat holding the hands of a patient in a brown sweater.

Engage the community in as many ways possible:

Educational initiatives - Develop age-appropriate educational programs and teaching units for schools that teach students about SDOH and their impact on mental health. Work with local school counselors and educators to incorporate SDOH awareness into the curriculum.

Conduct workshops and webinars for after-school programs, local youth organizations, clubs, athletic teams, libraries, etc. These events may also be tailored for adults, not just students, and shared with local church groups, professional associations, and businesses.

Advocacy Efforts and Policy Change - Inform the public while impacting outcomes by lobbying for policies and funding to help address SDOH disparities in mental health care. Collaborate with advocacy groups and action committees, to influence systemic change and help to raise awareness of SDOH disparities.

Research and Data Collection - Conduct research studies and gather data for evidence linking SDOH to suicide rates and mental health disparities. This can also help to create informative and educational content to distribute. Use your research findings to advocate for evidence-based interventions.

Community Engagement - Organize and/or host local events, forums, or town halls that focus on SDOH and their impact on mental health. Invite local leaders, policymakers, and healthcare experts to participate too. Working with community influencers may help amplify your message and reach a wider audience. Establishing support groups is another way to engage the community and raise awareness of SDOH-related challenges, while fostering a sense of belonging and solidarity with the community.

Content Strategy and Online Engagement - Develop a content strategy around SDOH and their impact on mental health and suicide rates. This may include blogs, articles, podcasts, videos, infographics, for your website and social media. Shareable content will get amplified by your followers online. Another way to engage audiences online is to create online forums and communities where individuals can discuss SDOH and their mental health implications.

Lower Cost Ways to Amplify Your Message

How do you get your messaging and services to the right people, on a limited budget? It requires creativity, and tenacity, but there are ways you can save money by leveraging the right resources and relationships.

  • Leverage any potential partnerships by collaborating with other health systems, community organizations, or mental health awareness organizations on promotions, messaging, advertising, and events.
  • Develop creative marketing and awareness campaigns that could also get picked up as earned media in local news, etc.
  • Leverage social media channels, and owned media (websites, email marketing, newsletters, etc.) for organic posts and content, which do not require a large cash outlay to maintain consistent messaging.

Mental health services not only help promote wellness and improve lives, but these vitally important services can also save lives by helping people to get into a better place emotionally, to prevent the feelings of despair, isolation, and helplessness that could lead to suicidal thoughts and actions.

By getting your mental health messaging and services to the right people at the right time, you can make a difference in the lives of many. Therefore, now is the time to evaluate your messaging to ensure you're sending the most helpful and engaging information to the people who need it most.

If you're not sure where to begin, we can help! We can work together with you to develop messaging strategies that could help reduce mental health disparities and mitigate the suicide rate in your community by making more people aware of the valuable services you provide.