Cover: Evaluation of Los Angeles County's 2023 Mental Health Campaigns

Evaluation of Los Angeles County's 2023 Mental Health Campaigns

Identifying the Reach and Impact of the Take Action for Mental Health Los Angeles County and Do Worthwhile Work Campaigns

Published Nov 30, 2023

by Alison Athey, Rebecca L. Collins, Nicole K. Eberhart, Elizabeth Roth, Samantha Matthews

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Research Questions

  1. Who were reached by the campaigns?
  2. What were the perceptions of the campaigns?
  3. How do those exposed to the campaigns compare with those unexposed?

Research shows that mental health challenges are a common and growing problem in the United States. The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) has used social marketing campaigns to promote mental health awareness and resources. LACDMH continued this work in 2023 with two campaigns: Take Action for Mental Health Los Angeles County and Do Worthwhile Work. Take Action for Mental Health involved community events and advertising of community and mental health resources. Do Worthwhile Work was a workforce recruitment campaign that encouraged applicants from diverse communities to apply to work at LACDMH.

RAND researchers conducted surveys to evaluate the campaigns' reach and impact in two age groups, youth (ages 14 to 25) and adults (26 and older), using a countywide survey. An additional survey was fielded at Take Action for Mental Health events to assess attendees' immediate responses to these events. Take Action for Mental Health reached one in four county youth and one in five county adults. The campaign events and social marketing efforts were well received and met the campaign goals of promoting mental health resources and community connections and reducing stigmatizing attitudes about mental health. Do Worthwhile Work reached one in five county youth and nearly one in ten county adults. The campaign was well received and appeared to meet its workforce recruitment aims. About one-half of the representative sample of county residents said they would consider applying to LACDMH. Recommendations for future campaigns are provided.

Key Findings

The Take Action for Mental Health LA County campaign reached a substantial proportion of Los Angeles County residents

  • The youth campaign reached diverse communities with wide-ranging demographic backgrounds, especially those who reported a history of mental health challenges.
  • Among adults, the campaign reach was greater among Hispanic residents and county residents with lower education and income levels.

Perceptions of Take Action for Mental Health events and other social marketing efforts were overwhelmingly positive, and those exposed to the campaign had attitudes around mental health that were more positive

  • Residents exposed to the campaign were more likely than unexposed peers to report that they knew about mental health resources in their communities and that they felt more connected to their communities.
  • Those exposed to the campaign also reported greater mobilization to promote mental health awareness in their own communities and reported fewer stigmatizing beliefs about mental health than did their unexposed peers.

More than one in five county youth and nearly one in ten adults reported exposure to the Do Worthwhile Work campaign

  • The campaign reach was greater among Hispanic adults. The campaign also reached more county adults with no college education and lower household incomes than those with higher education and income levels.

Perceptions of the Do Worthwhile Work campaign were also positive and the campaign met its workforce recruitment goals

  • County residents exposed to the campaign had more-favorable beliefs about mental health careers compared with those who did not see the campaign. About one-half said they would consider applying to LACDMH.

Recommendations

  • To expand campaign reach and impact of Take Action for Mental Health, more messaging and more-engaging messages should be used in future years. The campaign should also consider expanding outreach methods that more efficiently reach larger numbers of individuals, such as billboards and mass media buys.
  • Events and related outreach were key ways to reach non-Hispanic Black county residents; future Take Action for Mental Health campaigns should continue to promote events intended for the Black community.
  • Although Take Action for Mental Health appeared effective in reducing mental health stigma directed at others, future efforts should address residents' stigmatizing beliefs about their own mental health.
  • Trusted community-based organizations are effective campaign partners that may be engaged for future campaigns.
  • Partnerships should also be continued because they expand the campaigns' reach among adults and reinforce messages among youth.
  • The Do Worthwhile Work campaign reached more county adults with no college education and lower household incomes than those with higher education and income levels. Future campaigns should take care to target adults with educational backgrounds that fit with gaps in the county mental health workforce.

Research conducted by

This evaluation was sponsored by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) and carried out within the Access and Delivery Program in RAND Health Care.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.