Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City (NAMI-NYC Metro)

Name of Innovative Program: 
Sponsoring Organization
The National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City (NAMI-NYC Metro)
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Colleen Kane
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
Listening can be a very simple act. At NAMI-NYC Metro, we believe it has the power to transform the lives of individuals impacted by mental illness. Through listening, we can begin to break down the stigma associated with mental illness, which acts as a barrier to care.Ultimately, understanding is the best way to break down stigma. But before we can understand each other, we have to expose the issue.On October 2, 2013, NAMI-NYC Metro launched the #IWillListen campaign: The campaign frames mental health as a public health issue and gives everyone a reason to participate. #IWillListen utilizes both traditional and social media to engage people in conversation, and encourages people to seek help without fear of judgment.  The true power of #IWillListen lies in its ability to not rely solely on the 1 out of 4 Americans experiencing a mental health disorder, but its ability to call on 4 out of 4 Americans to take an active role in reducing mental illness stigma.Like all social justice movements, when the community stands up and demands change, people pay attention. In 2014, it's our hope to shine light on this issue and make mental health a priority.
Creativity and Innovation:, which is the central hub of the campaign, aggregates user--generated content from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Vimeo using hashtag #IWillListen -- bringing the entire conversation across social media into a single, dynamic platform. The hashtag aggregation is a new feature to Facebook, and, is being used for the first time to advocate for significant social change.In addition, the site capitalizes on the ‘Facebook Connect’ functionality to allow users to see which of their friends has made a promise to listen, so they know where they can turn if they need to talk.  This creative use of technology can support the recovery journey by letting people know who is available to them in their times of need.
The goal of #IWillListen is to enlist key influencers to participate in the fight to eradicate mental illness stigma. In 2013, NAMI-NYC Metro had successful partnerships with several organizations, including the Mayo Clinic, Mind UK, the American Psychiatric Association, Sandy Hook Promise, over 15 NAMI affiliates, and NAMI National.You cannot eradicate mental illness stigma without the help of the business community. Businesses are major purchasers of mental healthcare, and work plays a huge rule in an individual’s sense of self-worth. Unless organizations create environments to combat stigma, we will never be able to fully address the issue.Through NAMI-NYC Metro’s Workplace Mental Health Summits, we have introduced corporations to the #IWillListen Campaign. Deutsche Bank USA held the first corporate #IWillListen Day this past October with over 125 employees participating. We are working with several other companies to hold #IWillListen Days at their headquarters.
The #IWillListen Campaign has exciting plans as we move forward into 2014. Through a partnership with NAMI National, PSAs will air across the country on CBS from February to May.As mentioned, we have also begun to engage workplaces and college campuses to hold #IWillListen Days throughout the year. Initial campus #IWillListen Days were held at Penn State and the University of Florida. Through working with college campuses and organizations interested in holding #IWillListen Days, we are able to sustain the growth and impact of the campaign at a low cost, and with a high touch structure, that can be executed remotely at the local level.Because the campaign relies so heavily on user-generated content and interactions on social networks, sustainability is built in as those channels allow for ongoing dialog and engagement. Therefore, for a very limited investment, there is potential for great outcomes.
The campaign model for #IWillListen is open platform. This means that any nonprofit can use it and adapt it for their mental health effort without licensing fees. #IWillListen is driven by user-generated content, which means that it can be easily duplicated and activated by others.  With this campaign model, we are able to harness unique individual voices and diverse perspectives and work towards a common goal: eradicating stigma and promoting change.#IWillListen “tool-kits” provide college campuses and workplaces with a ‘how-to’ plan on ways to effectively hold an #IWillListen Day in their community. We have also been working with organizations to hold statewide #IWillListen Days. These events bring together behavioral health organizations, businesses, and other key stakeholders.
Measuring the impact of #IWillListen is extremely important to NAMI-NYC Metro. Initial internal impact can be seen through social media numbers. NAMI-NYC’s Facebook “likes” have quadrupled and Twitter following has doubled since the launch. Through strategic media outreach, #IWillListen was featured in over 300 news outlets, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and has received thousands of “promises to listen.”Prior to the campaign, we surveyed the public on their perceptions on mental illness. While the results were not surprising, they were troubling. We found that mental illness is currently the most stigmatized condition in our country and that 4 in 5 people think that it is harder to admit to having a mental illness than any other illness. In order to measure the effectiveness of the campaign, we will reissue this survey 6 months and 12 months after campaign launch to track progress and impact.