In 2013, United States President Barack Obama called for a national dialogue about mental health. In support of the president’s charge, McLean Hospital launched its first social media campaign with the goal of encouraging more public conversation about mental health and reducing the stigma that is often associated with psychiatric illness.
“President Obama’s call to openly talk about mental illness gave us the idea to ask everyone to promise to start one conversation about mental health,” said Jenna Brown, social media manager for McLean. “We asked our followers on Facebook and Twitter to openly engage with us by pledging to share their stories, photos and videos about the importance of talking shamelessly about mental health issues.”
Using the moniker #startwithone, the six-week campaign met its goal of increasing traffic to the hospital’s social media pages and encouraging awareness and engagement. As a follow-up to the campaign, McLean participated in the global web screening of Hidden Pictures, an award-winning film about global mental health. The innovative media event, titled 1 Film, 1 Worldwide Discussion, brought together a broad group of international organizations and advocates who hosted live and online screenings of Hidden Pictures in an effort to create a global dialogue about mental health issues.
Delaney Ruston, a physician and filmmaker who grew up in the shadow of her father’s schizophrenia, produced the film and spoke at an event for McLean’s National Council—supporters of the hospital who serve as ambassadors—in the fall of 2013.
“From my own personal experience, I know too well the obstacles to getting timely services and treatment for mental illness,” said Ruston. “Filming people around the world has exposed the shared struggles faced by the 450 million people living with mental illness worldwide. I hope that by telling their stories and spotlighting moments of profound compassion, we can spark a dialogue and begin to create change.”