Supporting Mental Health Awareness Every Day

At McLean, free resources about mental health are available all year long

May 30, 2024

Mental health continues to be among the largest public health challenges worldwide, with 1 in 5 people experiencing a mental illness each year and more than 30% of people developing a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Mental illness is the #1 cause of disability globally.

The World Health Organization reports that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated mental health challenges, citing a 25% increase in anxiety during the pandemic.

While more people than ever are recognizing the mental health needs of individuals throughout the life span, there continues to be a substantial need to reduce the perceived stigma of mental illness and to provide high-quality educational material that is accessible to broad audiences.

McLean Hospital’s free educational resources for clinicians and the public seek to address that education gap.

Outreach offerings include in-depth informational articles, award-winning animated videos voiced by hospital leaders, an internationally acclaimed mental health awareness campaign Deconstructing Stigma, and much more.

These resources are comprehensive, accessible, and free.

“For many people, mental health can be a big, confusing, and sometimes scary subject,” said Scott L. Rauch, MD, president and psychiatrist in chief at McLean and chair of Mass General Brigham Behavioral and Mental Health.

“By providing reliable information in a straightforward manner, our goal at McLean is to improve understanding and eliminate stigma about mental illness. We want to help people get answers to their questions, including when to seek out professional help for themselves or a loved one.”

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Reaching a Global Audience

On the McLean Hospital website, visitors can find extensive articles about many common mental health conditions including depression, trauma and PTSD, eating disorders, addiction, stress, schizophrenia, and older adult mental health. The “Everything You Need To Know About Mental Health” page includes access to these articles, as well as free online screening tools and information about specific, proven treatment options for a variety of mental health conditions.

Clinical professionals and interested members of the general public can also attend numerous online webinars and courses. Attendees can register for a future event or get access to the entire catalog of past sessions.

“Each day, we are focused on how we can deliver valuable and accessible mental health information to people within our community and beyond,” said Scott J. O’Brien, director of Education Outreach, whose team is responsible for Deconstructing Stigma and many of the free educational resources hosted by McLean.

“It is gratifying to see the narrative around mental health changing, but we know that there continue to be misconceptions and stigma. The goal of our team is to chip away at those negative barriers that too often prevent people from seeking care.”

Another resource that McLean has offered for years is its robust speaker’s bureau, which pairs hospital clinical and research staff with organizations seeking speakers to talk about mental health. According to Laura Neves, who spearheads the speaker’s bureau, the hospital has provided more than 50 speakers to various groups this year so far. She noted that organizations can range from places like Amazon and FedEx to small local churches.

Partnering To Promote Resources

Recently, thanks to a partnership between McLean and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), there are also free mental health webinars and animated videos available on the McLean and ADAA websites.

“The work grew out of an abundance of searches and inquiries to the ADAA website. The majority of people entered queries that included ‘Do I have’ or ‘How do you define’ one of several mental health conditions,” said Jim Holsomback, director of McLean’s Clinical Outreach team.

“We realized that working together, we could provide the information that people were searching for and create a resource to give a quick explanation and then more in-depth assistance if needed. It was mission-based work for both of our organizations.”

Holsomback and his team were recently honored by the ADAA with its 2024 Institutional Member Award for the series.

“This award recognizes an ADAA institutional member who provides ongoing collaboration with the association to enhance our public-facing content and outreach to the public as well as helping to develop professional education programming,” said Katie Russo, senior director of Strategic Business Development and Operations at ADAA.

“McLean winning this award is just another testament to the quality of their team and the passion of their experts.”

The videos—which are voiced by some of McLean’s senior leadership and staff, including Rauch, Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD, Nathaniel Van Kirk, PhD, Roberto Olivardia, PhD, and Gillian C. Galen, PsyD—and webinars are available on the ADAA website and YouTube channel, and have been viewed across the country. Several new pieces of content are due out later this year.

McLean also provides free webinars through many of its clinical programs. One example is the Crafting Support Project, an educational series designed for family, friends, and clinicians of individuals who are navigating mental health recovery.

In these online events, McLean staff psychologist Julie M. McCarthy, PhD, and colleagues share skills from evidence-based approaches including community reinforcement and family training (CRAFT), as well as presentations from clinicians, people with lived experience with psychosis, and their family members.

The Crafting Support Project 2024 webinars take place on the second Thursday of each month from April through November 2024, from 5-6pm. Interested individuals can register once to attend any of the upcoming topics.

Changing Attitudes About Mental Health

While the list of McLean’s free mental health resources goes on, the hospital’s award-winning, international Deconstructing Stigma campaign is also worth highlighting.

Through larger-than-life public exhibits, its dedicated website, and companion book, Deconstructing Stigma changes attitudes about mental health by showcasing individuals who have been affected by mental illness and sharing their stories—largely in their own words.

Deconstructing Stigma exhibits have appeared in airports, museums, universities, departments of correction, and other venues around the world.

Among the public installations currently on display are McLean Hospital’s Belmont campus in the corridor connecting the hospital’s Admissions Building to its tunnel system, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport across from baggage claim 3-5, and Logan International Airport along the entire 235-foot hallway that connects Terminals B and C on the departure level (pictured at top).

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