Mental health research and the resulting treatments have made recovery a reality for many who experience mental illness. Without research, there will be no new treatments.
How we talk about mental health and mental health research has a big impact on how others view it and the likelihood that they would participate. We can all be ambassadors of mental health research and start breaking the stigma of mental health and research.
Here are some things you can do right now to promote mental health research:
Disseminate information about clinical research and individual studies.
There are dozens of ways to educate the public on the benefits and availability of clinical research:
- Include clinical trial recruitment ads in your organization newsletters;
- Offer research brochures (available here and here) at your organization;
- Post educational and informational posters on waiting room walls (available here);
- Add links to mental health advocacy groups that support research to your websites (some – not all – organizations are listed here);
- Invite investigators from your community to speak with your constituents (search for relevant studies and sites near you on clinicaltrials.gov).
Support your peers’ participation in medical research at large.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health condition that would benefit from treatment, share information about research and help them find research near them via clinicaltrials.gov.
When the opportunity arises and whenever possible, talk about the benefits of medical research and specifically mental health research. Misconceptions about research can often be a barrier to participate — there are organizations that have resources to educate about these perceptions and support patients and caregivers to be active participants in the advancement of research (one such resource here).
Participate in Walks, Runs, and other events that bring awareness to mental health illnesses and research.
Participate in mental health awareness and fundraising events that raise funds, combat stigma, and promote awareness of mental illness. There are hundreds of these events and activities, which are usually listed in your local paper in the community section, but some other opportunities include (not a comprehensive list):
- National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Walks – find a local NAMI Walk here;
- Mental Health America offers several ways to support awareness events. You can find options to participate here;
- The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation funds research into new treatment options through grants. Information on creating your own event or participating in an existing event can be found here;
- Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA) has events throughout the year, listed on their website here.
Share your story of success overcoming mental health issues with proper treatment.
Whether you are sharing your story with friends or on a more public platform, sharing a story about your mental health challenges can offer encouragement and support to others with similar experiences. The story of your successful journey with research helps bring awareness to the availability and benefits of research. Sharing your story also helps promote understanding and empathy to those without mental illness.
Online platforms for stories of individuals’ mental health journeys can be found on the following sites (not a comprehensive list):
- National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) offers several places and ways to share stories (You are Not Alone) or just thoughts (Ok2Talk);
- Mental Health America (MHA) encourages sharing personal mental health stories and has developed an area on their website: #mentalillnessfeelslike here;
- Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA) developed ‘Hearing Voices of Support’, an initiative to promote acceptance, support, hope & recovery for people living with schizophrenia and related brain disorders. You can listen to others’ stories and upload yours here.
- The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) has a few places throughout their website with peoples’ stories, but their ‘I’m living proof’ program offers a place for you to share your story here.
We need your help promoting this National Call to Action to Support Mental Health Research!Help build awareness by sharing this Call-to-Action on social media, on your profile and on social media groups related to mental health. Email it to your contacts and ask them to help by sending it to their contacts. If you have media contacts, reach out to them to and ask them to help promote the Call-to-Action by writing about it and publishing articles on it. Keep the momentum by posting and sending regular updates.