Doug Hahn, of the Town of Tonawanda, who has struggled with depression, has been among young adults who has given his peers insight by sharing his story on (Scott Scanlon/Buffalo News file photo)

By Staff | Published October 3, 2017 | Updated October 3, 2017 – a peer-to-peer public awareness campaign focused on the prevention and early intervention of mental health and substance abuse challenges facing teens and young adults in Western New York – on Tuesday unveiled new features of a multiyear program it launched last year.

A prominent new feature of the web-based campaign is 24/7 live chat capability in partnership with the YWCA of Genesee County’s Care+Crisis Helpline. Individuals are now able to chat live anytime through the website with trained staff members who can refer appropriate resources throughout the region.

Other additions include a new “Tools and Inspiration” page where users can more easily access videos and download toolkits translated into seven languages, including Spanish, Karen, Somali, Burmese, Arabic, Nepalese and Bengali. Online visitors also can see expanded video content that introduces five new youth peer spokespeople, a recovery coach and a prevention professional. Furthering the peer-to-peer message of the campaign, new billboards, digital ads, and fresh social media content across multiple platforms have been created.

“Launching with a singular, clear and concise call to action – telling one trusted person how you’re feeling – was the overriding rationale to the first phase of the campaign,” said Amy White-Storfer, director, Community Partners of WNY. “As we enter the campaign’s second year, our goal is to provide new and engaging content to maintain campaign momentum; to acknowledge that most who struggle with mental and/or addiction issues have multiple diagnoses; and to build upon the initial call-to-action by providing more in-depth advice on how to start the conversation and take those important next steps to recovery.”

New WNY awareness campaign designed to help youth with addiction, depression

Anthony Donalson, right, youth peer mentor at the Mental Health Association of Erie County, and Michele Mercer, chief clinical integration officer with Millennium Collaborative Care, both helped with the improvements at (Peter Ciotta/Special to the News) campaign materials are tailored to teens and young adults ages 14 to 26 living in urban and rural communities and within the Medicaid population. The effort also provides helpful insight and information for adult influencers such as parents, family members, church and community leaders, and coaches and teachers.

The expansion comes after the campaign’s substantial success following its launch last November. As of Aug. 31, its website has garnered more than 33,000 page views, with depression and suicide the two most-visited sections. Nearly 21 million impressions have been delivered on Facebook with 33,080 engaged users. On Sept. 20, Facebook total video views surpassed 1 million.

It scored well on Twitter, with 60,509 total impressions; on YouTube with 207,229 video views; and on Instagram, with 34,880 impressions and 1,985 video views. It also has generated numerous requests from other agencies, schools and organizations throughout Western New York and as far away as New York City for additional information and presentations about the campaign.

The campaign is funded through Community Partners of WNY and Millennium Collaborative Care, two Performing Provider Systems funded by the state as part of the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program. The Mental Health Association of Erie County, in association with the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, leads the program, with support from community organizations in all eight Western New York counties.


Twitter: @BNrefresh

Story topics: health and fitness/ mental health


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