Purpose-Driven Agency OBERLAND Explores Changing Attitudes About Mental Health in New Survey

·6 min read

Stigma appears to be easing, but obstacles to finding treatment and gaining workplace acceptance remain.

NEW YORK, May 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Two years into a global pandemic, have attitudes about mental illness changed significantly? That was the overriding question that OBERLAND, the purpose-driven agency, wanted to explore as it undertook a survey of opinions and viewpoints on the issue of mental illness in 2022. Coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Month in the US, the survey's findings are being released today.

Workplace acceptance of mental health issues remains a challenge, even in the post pandemic environment.
Workplace acceptance of mental health issues remains a challenge, even in the post pandemic environment.

OBERLAND, the purpose-driven ad agency, surveyed 600 Americans to gauge public attitudes about mental illness.

Over 600 people nationally took part, with a third of them from the New York metro area. OBERLAND is revealing its findings via a series of infographics it will post on its social channels and shared with its community of media, marketing and advertising influencers.

Among the toplines results is that the stigma surrounding mental illness is improving, yet remains when it comes to sharing mental health conditions in the workplace. Access to effective treatment remains a challenge, the survey found, which represents an area in need of improvement.

This new survey is an update to a similar one conducted in 2013 on behalf of NAMI-NYC, the New York metro chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (www.nami.org). Its goal then was to get a stronger grasp on the public's understanding of what it means to live with mental illness. The updated survey, conducted online earlier this year, was prompted by the changing dialogue surrounding mental illness; it was intended to track current opinions and values and determine where and how perceptions may have shifted.

Among its key findings is that 23 percent more Americans strongly agree – 65 percent in our survey – that having a mental illness is no different than having any other illness like diabetes, high blood pressure or asthma. This shows significant improvement in mental illness being seen the same as physical illness.

Further, 41 percent strongly agree that people with mental illness can have normal lives if they're treated effectively – an increase of 37 percent from 2013.

The survey also shows that people increasingly believe qualities like creativity, intelligence and caring are higher among people with mental illnesses – an increase of approximately 15 percent since 2013.

"It's encouraging to see the stigma around mental illness trending in the right direction," said OBERLAND CEO Drew Train. "This fits in with what NAMI is trying to do with its Pledge to be Stigma Free, which we strongly support."

"When we talk openly, we realize mental illness impacts all of us. Whether you're a family member caring for a loved one living with mental illness or a company leader, we invite you to join the conversation and our community. Together, we have the power to shift attitudes and end stigma," shared Matt Kudish, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City (NAMI-NYC), which provides free, accessible mental health programs and services—and helps break down barriers with workplace mental health trainings as well as school and community-based presentations.

"We wanted to get people to think deeper about the changing landscape of mental health by illustrating the changes in attitudes reflected in these studies, conducted years apart," Train said of the agency's social media campaign. "In light of the pressures we've all been under since the pandemic began – and particularly in light of the mental health toll it's taken on young people – it's important for us as a society to view mental illness in the most objective, progressive and sympathetic way. We see this as one important way to break obstacles to people seeking or obtaining treatment."

The 2022 survey found that, overall, people today have more awareness, understanding, and acceptance of mental illness. Among the highlights of the responses are:

  • Google search trends have risen significantly since 2013 on such terms as "mental health," "anxiety" and "therapist."

  • Awareness of mental health organizations is up significantly compared to 2013. Back then, 64 percent of people reported having heard of mental health organizations like Mental Health Advocacy Coalition, NAMI, Mental Health Association, the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, the National Mental Health Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the National Institute of Mental Health. Today, 93 percent of respondents report being aware of those organizations.

But not everything surrounding the issue of mental illness is improving, Train warned. "Although there's greater understanding and acceptance, we'd be fooling ourselves to say that the prejudice against people with mental illness has vanished, particularly when it comes to the workplace," he observed. The survey found that:

  • Thirty percent of respondents say the prejudice has gotten worse – a 14 percent rise since 2013.

  • In 2022, about 8 out of 10 people say it's not okay to tell coworkers about your mental illnesses – a small but largely insignificant increase from 2013. This comes at a time when employers are making stronger efforts to address mental health issues at the office or job site.

There's also been little to no change in the accessibility of care:

  • Across the US, the ease of finding support for mental illnesses has stayed the same since 2013: 19 percent say it's very easy, 31 percent say it's somewhat easy, 50 percent say it's not easy.

  • Among New Yorkers, where access to mental health care would presumably be more readily available, the amount of people who found it 'very easy' to find professional help went from eight to 18 percent. While a significant increase, it remains well under a quarter of the sample.

The outlook for improving the mental health picture is mixed, said Train. "As stigma decreases and public attitudes soften, more people will feel comfortable seeking treatment, which will strain our already stressed mental health services – so this is another area where communities and employers will need to focus their attention."

"And we need to mount a concerted effort to change opinions about mental health issues and the workplace, which is where we believe future anti-stigma campaigns should be concentrated. When the stigma surrounding mental health is erased, we'll be able to say we've made real progress."

Media Contacts:
Anthony Vagnoni, Director of Communications, OBERLAND
avagnoni@thisisoberland.com, 917.734.4867

Launched in 2014 by acclaimed marketing professionals Bill Oberlander and Drew Train, OBERLAND (www.thisisoberland.com) has become the new face of the advertising industry: an agency dedicated to helping brands Make Good Money. Winner of Ad Age's Small Agency of the Year award, it combines the expertise of its team with passionate social advocacy, creating work that can help change the world and make conscious capitalism the new standard operating procedure for brands. In a world where consumers crave meaning and seek to identify with the products they use every day, OBERLAND is helping its clients deliver traditional, digital, social and mobile campaigns that reflect and create shared value. A Certified B Corp and Public Benefit Corporation, its portfolio offers services for every need, providing public sector, private sector, and non-profit organizations with fully integrated, purpose-driven solutions.

About the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City
For 40 years, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City (NAMI-NYC) has offered life-changing support, education, and advocacy to families and individuals affected by mental illness. NAMI-NYC's services are free of charge and accessible to anyone who needs them. Learn more at www.naminyc.org and follow us on social @naminyc_metro.

A snapshot from the 2022 OBERLAND survey of attitudes and perceptions surrounding mental illness.
A snapshot from the 2022 OBERLAND survey of attitudes and perceptions surrounding mental illness.
thisisoberland.com (PRNewsfoto/OBERLAND)
thisisoberland.com (PRNewsfoto/OBERLAND)

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