Several byproducts of the COVID-19 epidemic make this the right time for health system marketers to emphasize mental health outreach and messaging:
#1 – Increased Mental Health Concerns
Studies have shown that during pandemics and crises like a potential global recession, mental health suffers. With the elimination of direct contact with friends, colleagues, and family, social distancing has put a spotlight on the needs of those with existing mental health conditions – while amplifying concerns for those who have never before been diagnosed. Also, there is great potential for exacerbation in populations already diagnosed or at risk.
#2 – Increased Public Awareness
People are paying lots of attention to local healthcare and personal health. The good news is, people are listening to what health systems are saying. And not just listening, they are engaged, seeking information and are even more attached to phones, screens and tablets than before. With tuned-in health consumers, there is an opportunity to maximize outreach dollars on tactics that once seemed less important. It also means increased exposure to your brand.
#3 – Decreased Emphasis on Office Visits
A health systems marketer’s main goal is no longer increasing office visits. Given this, you could re-purpose outreach resources like web site space, email, outbound nurse hotline calling, and print campaigns for “softer” goals. Mental health was likely a lower priority than higher value service lines. These may now take a back seat, as foot traffic must be limited to slow the COVID-19 spread.
Strategically, consider these types of activities, instead:
- Educate the public on mental health and potential self-management
- Connect consumers to non-office-visit mental health resources
- Calm fears, show empathy, build community
Mental Health Outreach Examples
Here are just a few ideas for possible mental health messaging tactics and campaigns:
- Create outreach and follow-up messages that offer solutions and not panic.
- Send emails to people recommended for depression or anxiety assessments and possibly direct them to telehealth services.
- Do outbound calling to check-in on known high-risk patients to keep employees working, who may not have in-clinic patients.
- Execute print campaigns for non-surgical services while audiences have more time to read and research. This will create spikes for service lines later in the year when capacity frees up.
In summary, there are a confluence of timely factors that point towards the importance of population health outreach for mental health issues. Use this high visibility time to serve communities in need. You want to be viewed as a helpful resource and not a scary place without enough beds or ventilators. Find ways to serve the community with your digital resources. Show your initiative and commitment now and the public will remember.
To help you take advantage of the situation, and to meet the increased mental health needs, we have a special offer. We are supplying our Anxiety and Depression assessments for free to health systems through at least the end of June 2020.