Reporter’s Notebook: Peek into challenges, trends and ideas mental health marketing

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The Mental Health Marketing conference, in its third year, puts the spotlight on how companies can more effectively reach the people who need such treatment.

Finding a way into a person’s life when they need, and are searching for, help is a challenge for mental health care providers who are battling a persistent stigma around mental health care.

The Mental Health Marketing conference, in its third year, and hosted by Austin Harrison, who has a full-time job at IV Studio, a Nashville-based animation company, puts the spotlight on how companies can more effectively reach the people who need such treatment. This year’s conference, July 26-27, was sponsored by the likes of CenterStone, JourneyPure and Foundation Recovery Networks.

This year, mental health marketers got a chance to try out the ware they sell in a setting that didn’t mean a co-worker learned about their personal situation. For the first time at the mental health marketing conference, attendees (nearly 70 percent of whom are on the marketing side) could sign up for a 15-minute session with a clinician at Lipscomb University in order to better understand the treatments they are tasked with selling.

Next year Harrison, who started a Slack channel for attendees to stay in touch, wants companies, particularly tech and social media, “outside the space to take a hard look at what we’re doing and help provide solutions.”

The conversations around reaching people who need care where they are (on their phones and online, duh) are important for behavioral health but apply broadly to all health care companies trying to convert searchers or visitors into patients.

Here’s a round-up of ideas and takeaways:

  • Using smart geolocation and tagging are important since so many people search for a treatment near them. Using more specific language around what a facility treats (i.e. addiction, anxiety, depression, eating disorders) helps put the service higher in search results
  • Reputation management and online presentation. People looking for even a single reason not to seek treatment will use a poor star or online review as a reason to not come. Clinicians can’t or shouldn’t ask for reviews because of HIPAA considerations, but a marketing survey sent a month after a successful treatment could suggest filling out a review to “tell us how we did.”
  • Connect into the ‘consumer stuff’ where people spend most of their time

People spend maybe 1 percent in a clinician’s office and the rest of the stuff is “consumer stuff” like sports, shopping and movies so companies should be thinking about targeting people who are likely to be in situations where treatment is helpful, said Vince Scalia of Gloo, a cloud-based software company focused on integrating engagement and customer tracking.

For instance, Scalia said, people who are searching for electronic music or are into extreme sports could be likely to either be around drugs or be in a situation in which they are likely to get injured and be prescribed a drug. .

Health care should use the wealth of available data to better pinpoint who needs their service and when. Big companies such as Amazon and Target use data and previous history to predict what a shopper wants or would be interested in.

“We live in a data driven world. Almost nothing that you do is not recorded. It produces so much information that you can analyze and find patterns in,” said Scalia. “We can use the same tactics to get them into care, to get them help.”

  • Centerstone is trying to make treatment as easy as Kroger’s ClickList or Shipt and looking to open up different lines of communication, including texting and apps.

Phones can be a barrier or opportunity so the company is piloting an in-house built app that has a mood tracker, a component designed to calm, physical activity monitor and journal function among its features, said Jennifer Armstrong, vice president of customer engagement operations at Centerstone. Early results show a 47 percent decrease in days with anxiety.

The company is embedding telehealth function so even people who are further from physical treatment can access it, or use the feature as a way to elongate time between in-person visits.

Photo by Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash

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