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Research Questions

  1. What was the reach of the 2021 WhyWeRise campaign and its components?
  2. What was the campaign's impact? That is, how did residents perceive campaign messages, and how did those who were reached by the campaign differ from others in terms of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to mental illness?

Mental health problems are common and debilitating, but many people do not receive the mental health treatment that they need. In 2018, the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) launched WhyWeRise, a social marketing campaign that sought to increase community engagement around removing barriers to mental health care access, promote awareness of county mental health resources and services, and communicate messages of resilience, community, hope, and support. WhyWeRise is focused on the prevention of and early intervention for mental health challenges among county residents. The primary aims of the 2021 campaign were to raise awareness of the resources available to support mental health through LACDMH and to communicate messages of resilience, support, and hope.

To gain insight into the 2021 WhyWeRise campaign's reach and impact, RAND researchers conducted a survey of Los Angeles County residents to compare the demographic characteristics, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of residents who were exposed to the campaign with those of residents who were not. The survey allowed the researchers to evaluate all the 2021 campaign elements: websites, outdoor ads, television and radio ads, social media posts, and community and digital events. In this report, the researchers describe the methods and findings of their evaluation of the 2021 campaign and provide general conclusions about the campaign's reach and impact.

Key Findings

  • Thirty-seven percent of survey respondents were exposed to an aspect of WhyWeRise.
  • WhyWeRise was effective in reaching all major racial/ethnic groups in the county, particularly Spanish-preferring Hispanic residents, and in reaching those with lower incomes and education levels.
  • Eighty percent of residents attending campaign events said the events made them feel their mental health is important, and 71 percent said the events gave them new information about how to get help with emotions or mental health. Patterns were similar for television and radio ads and for social media.
  • Those who were exposed to the campaign were more likely than those who were not to agree that they were aware of information and resources offered by LACDMH.
  • Awareness of the county's Help Line and website was more than twice as high among those exposed to an element of the campaign, and use of the website was four times as likely among WhyWeRise-exposed versus unexposed individuals.
  • Those exposed to WhyWeRise were more likely to agree that they plan to help break down barriers that keep people with mental health challenges from getting treatment and that they have the power to change how communities deal with mental health issues.
  • They were also more likely to report that they plan to take action to prevent discrimination against those experiencing mental illness and that they can recognize the signs that someone may be experiencing a mental health problem.

Research conducted by

This research was funded by the California Mental Health Services Authority 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.

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