Introduction

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Lane County Public Relations (LCPR) was founded by six young and hardworking public relations practitioners in April 2012.  All six women will soon graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, bringing different experiences, expertise and knowledge to their clientele. As a team, Lane County PR has a unique, fresh brand of public relations expertise to offer its clients. Our agency manages the flow of information between an organization and its publics, creating an open, two-way relationship with various clients and audiences. During the spring of 2012, LCPR will partner with Lane County Health and Human Services to create a communications plan to reduce the stigmas of depression while increasing knowledge and understanding of mental illness. Below are brief biographies of the Lane County PR team:

Team Biographies:
Account Executive: Shawna Widmer, 21, is currently a senior at the University of Oregon studying public relations and advertising with a minor in women and gender studies. After spending a summer abroad in Ghana, Africa working for a the Public Agenda, a local Ghanaian newspaper, as well as Universal McCann, a global advertising agency based in Accra, Ghana, Shawna’s interest in cross cultural advertising and public relations, travel, and ethnic cuisine has become a deep passion. Shawna will work in Chiang Mai, Thailand this summer as the Assistant Program Manager for The Elephant Nature Foundation where she will work on campaigning, event planning, writing press releases, blogging, social media and travel to local communities to advocate on the behalf of endangered Asian elephants. From this multi-cultural experience abroad, Shawna hopes to return to the United States with a unique outlook, and work for an agency based in San Francisco or New York. Account Director: Kayla Albrecht, 22, is a senior public relations student at the University of Oregon with a minor in Spanish. After studying abroad in Rosario, Argentina in the summer of 2010, the aspiring public relations practitioner fell in love with culture and language and is working towards fluency in the Spanish language. In the summer of 2011, Kayla interned for the communications team at the global humanitarian agency Mercy

Corps, headquartered in Portland, OR. Through this experience, the senior undergrad began to sharpen her skills in copy editing, writing news releases, building relationships with the media and pitching stories. Kayla has developed leadership skills through her elected position on the governing body of her sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma and has experience in managing groups and spearheading projects. Upon graduation, Kayla will travel to Accra, Ghana with a select group of journalism students to intern for the Public Agenda, a local Ghanaian advocacy newspaper. After returning from Ghana, the college graduate plans to begin her career in humanitarian communications. Account Planner: Danica Nelson, 22, is currently a senior at the University of Oregon studying public relations with a communications minor. Having transferred schools and changed majors, Danica has a diverse perspective on company relations. Danica currently demonstrates her desire in learning more about public relations through being a member of the University of Oregon’s Public Relations Student Society of America. Danica has an interest in crisis management, marketing and social media. Upon graduation, Danica hopes to be accepted into the masters program at the American Intercontinental University in the heart of London where she will increase her knowledge of the business world with an MBA in Business. Danica plans to pursue a career in public relations where she will put her passion for business and public relations into action. Account Manager: Lauren Thompson is passionate about sports and has well-rounded leadership skills. In her last term of school at the University of Oregon, she is a senior majoring in Journalism, with a focus in Public Relations and a minor in Economics. She was a promotions and sales intern for the Eugene Emeralds Minor League Baseball team from March-July 2011 and currently is a team captain and center back for the University of Oregon women’s soccer team. She is also a team representative for SAAC, a student-run athlete advisory committee at UO, which works to better the student-athlete experience and increase athlete community involvement. From her experience she has established several qualities for her future in the PR field, including: developing relationships, crisis management, teamwork and achieving goals. Her interests reside in sports public relations, social media and event planning with a large sports organization. Outside of school and work, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends as well as stirring up new recipes and traveling. Lauren will be returning for another season of soccer in the fall of 2012 and hopes to find a career with a sports team within the Seattle

area. She has her eyes set on the Seattle Sounders. Copy Editor: Danielle Trank, 23, is currently a senior at the University of Oregon with a focus in public relations. In the summer of 2009, she sharpened my skills as a journalist writing for the Molalla Pioneer, a small newspaper south of Portland. After shifting gears from reporting, Danielle has found a home in the practice of public relations. Public relations gives Danielle great opportunity to use her creative thought process while establishing and maintaining cooperative relationships with clients. Upon graduation in June 2012, Danielle plans to obtain position in public relations in Portland, Ore., or Austin, Texas. Danielle’s ultimately hopes to land position in crisis management. Creative Director: Originally from Taiwan, Yi Hsuan Yang is an international student majoring in Public Relations and Psychology. She is currently a research assistant in the Groups and War lab at the University of Oregon. She is passionate in researching the interactions between human behavior and the environment in relation to global peace. She believes that harmonious inter-ethnic relationships and harmonious relationships with the natural environment could enhance global peace. In the future, she hopes to become a grassroot peacemaker through behavioral, applied research and through the media to assist the world in becoming a more peaceful place. Upon graduation, she plans on interning for Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) in Bangalore, India. Opportunity Statement: Lane County Health and Human Services (HHS – Lane County) has the opportunity to reduce the stigma of depression throughout the 4J school district in Eugene so that the mental illness does not progress into a more serious situation like suicide. A stigma is defined as a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach on one's reputation. The stigma about depression and the lack of knowledge about how to help someone who is depressed are the problems we will address. Target publics include: middle school students (grades six to eight), parents, and teachers. The media is another public that will be important in our research process and we will use media outlets to sensitively and accurately distribute our information. This campaign allows HHS – Lane County to increase awareness and to create a greater understanding about the existence of negative stereotypes among individuals who suffer from depression and the next steps to take to help a person suffering from depression.

Situation Analysis:
Oregon’s suicide rate is 35 percent higher than the national average and Lane County’s rate is statistically equal to the state rate. According to the research article “Suicides in Oregon: Trends and Risk Factors” reports that “over 70% of suicide victims had a diagnosed mental disorder, substance use problems, or were in a depressed mood at time of death. Despite the high prevalence of mental health problems, less than one third of male victims and just about half of female victims were receiving treatment for mental health problems at the time of death” (Oregon Department of Human Services, 2010). As specified by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in the United States. Associated with mental illness and depression, our goal is to reduce the stigmas and increase knowledge aimed to reduce this tragic suicide statistic. Lane County’s goal is to reduce stigma and increase knowledge about mental health, which will be the main focus of the overall research campaign. The focus is on reducing the stigma about depression throughout middle schools in the Eugene-Springfield and breaking the barrier that is holding people back from helping someone with a mental illness. The issues do not reside with the people who are consumed by depression, but with the bystanders who are interacting with those affected by depression. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates that “prejudice and discrimination are major barriers to recovery for people who have mental health problems. They are among the reasons why nearly two-thirds of all people with diagnosable mental illnesses do not seek treatment” (ADS Center, 2008). People tend to feel more uncomfortable when talking about possible depression symptoms than talking about a common cold or a flu. Indeed, according to research report “Mental Illness: Facts and Numbers,” one in four American adults – close to 58 million people– experience symptoms of a mental illness at some time during the year (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2006). Health and Human Services is a extensive organization that oversees health, mental health, social services and offender programs in a system that largely contracts local organizations. The mission of Lane County HHS is to promote and protect the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and our communities. The Lane County Health and Human Services acknowledges that mental illness issues exist throughout the Lane County community and will attempt to address these issues and specifically focus on depression.

What is an agreeable definition of stigma? Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines stigma as “a specific diagnostic sign of a disease.” Stigma carries a negative connotation of disease or mental illness and our goal is to reduce the negative connotation aspect of the definition. Our campaign is designed to redefine stigma in a less negative and more acceptable light.

Target Audiences:
Students: This group will encompass grades 6-8 in the 4J school district (Eugene) and will be measured by their awareness of depression and their attitudes on the subject. This is our primary audience. We will work to increase their awareness of the symptoms and proper ways to help a peer with depression while working to decrease the negative attitudes directed towards mental illness, especially depression. Parents: This group entails the parents of the middle school students in the 4J school district who we plan to survey. This is a crucial audience because parents have the power to seek help for their children who may be depressed. If parents adopt negative stigmas about mental illness then they will be less likely to seek help for their children. Through our qualitative questions directed towards the parents we expect to find more in-depth answers as well as increase awareness about depression. Teachers/Staff: Similarly to media, we want to inform teachers and staff (in the 4J school district: Eugene) about the characteristics of depression so they can speak our key messages and intervene when necessary. Teachers and staff will be the most experienced of our target audiences in working with depression. The teachers will be the most important audience in determining when to intervene and what steps to take next to help a student suffering from depression since they will be the most accessible audience to educate about depression. Media: How our information is distributed is also very important. We want to inform the media of how to sensitively present the topic of depression and suicide to the general public. This encompasses local newspaper, television and radio media outlets within the Lane County area.

Research:
Methods: We began to work on the research problem by emailing local middle school teachers and principals to ask if we could survey their students. We also contacted Mark Oldham, the mental health therapist for the Eugene 4J school district, to interview him about the subject of mental health services and depression among middle school students. We

were told that we would be unable to conduct our surveys to middle school students due to the time of the year and the lack of responses from most middle schools. Because of our time constraint and the limitations on two of our target audiences (students and parents), we decided to focus primarily on middle school therapists and counselors. We believe that therapists and counselors are an important audience to contact because they have significant insight into how the mind works and are familiar in the area of handling depression with our key audience. By speaking with a therapist, we would be able to develop a deeper understanding of what depression entails, what steps to take when discovering someone is depressed, how common depression is among middle school kids, and why there is a negative association of those with depression. We also believe that parents and teachers of middle schoolers should be contacted since they have a very close relationship with middle school students. Even though we could not connect to teachers and parents, we believe that their first hand experience with depression, their input and their opinions will be vital to our research next fall at the beginning of the school year. The focus of our first conversation with Lane County HHS, they emphasized the importance of stigma reduction of mental illness as a whole. Lane County Public Relations came together to narrow Lane County HHS stigma reduction campaign. While our client originally intended for the target audience to include grades 5-8, we decided to constrict our research to grades 6-8 for greater access to students and faculty. Due to the schedule structure of middle school classes we would have the ability to survey more students and interview teachers who have relation to a greater number of students. Since mental health issues cover such a variety of illnesses we decided to strictly focus on depression.   Initially, we were provided secondary research from Lane County HHS, such as Mental Illness Awareness Guide, Developing a Stigma Reduction Initiative, What a Difference a Friend Makes and Lane County’s 2010 EPI Report (Epidemiological Data on Alcohol, Drugs and Mental Health). From this information, we initially sought to survey middle schoolers in the Eugene 4J school district to understand their knowledge and awareness about mental illness, more specifically depression. Due to lack of availability at the end of the 2011-2012 school year and lack of willingness to participate among principals and teachers, we were unable to successfully distribute surveys. However, we redirected our primary research focus towards oneon-one interviews with professionals in the Lane County area, such as counselors. Our interview questions were designed to understand the level of awareness and knowledge among students and parents. We also asked questions to understand the stigmas and/or attitudes encountered

when talking about mental illness. Our questions also aimed to gain insight into when students first begin to learn about the symptoms and treatments of depression. Sandy Moses, our client contact and the Mental Health Promotion Coordinator for HHS Lane County, provided us with sources to begin our primary research.  Our first contact was Mark Oldham, the North Eugene Mental Health Therapist as well as a licensed clinical social worker. Our second interview conducted was with the counselor for Agnes Stewart Middle School, Sam Kimelblot. Analysis: We decided to focus on depression when we began our secondary research. Instantly, we found that, paired with other issues like substance abuse problems, depression was a major concern within Eugene and Springfield middle schools. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) “goes on to tell us that one in 17 American adults experiences and lives with symptoms of severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression” (Huffington Post). Even though anxiety is the leading cause of mental illness within middle schoolers, we found through our research that depression can lead to more dangerous actions and results. “Suicide, according to NAMI, is the 11th-leading cause of death in this country” (Huffington Post). “Oregon’s suicide rate is 35 percent higher than the national average,” which is 70 percent in Oregon and Lane County, according to Lane County - HHS. From our research, depression is a factor in the act of suicide, which we are looking to minimize. As stated in the methodology, the primary research conducted consists of several interviews with professionals within the Lane County school districts. The first interview was conducted on May 4, 2012 with Mark Oldham in his office at North Eugene High School. Mark Oldham is a licensed clinical social worker and currently works as a mental health therapist for the Eugene 4J school district. He has served as a member of the Board of Licensed Social Workers for the state of Oregon since 2003. The two services that Mark offers as the presiding mental health therapist are direct treatment for students with mental health problems, involvement in safety issues and consultation for parents and teachers. According to Mark, the appearance of mental health therapists in Lane County began as a response to the Thurston High School shootings in 1998. However, Eugene is the only school district that still employs a mental health therapist today, and both Bethel and Springfield school districts no longer fill the position. The most important point raised by Mark’s interview was the importance of therapy. He also notes that the most common mental

health problem in middle school students is anxiety. In many cases, mental health issues arise from cases of abuse or neglect at home, and therapists are the best first step in helping adolescents cope with their problems. Although it is important for our audiences to understand the symptoms of mental health issues and ways to support their peers, children or students, the first step to receiving help should begin with a licensed therapist who can determine possible treatment options. Mr. Oldham explains that unlike high school students who are often selfinferred, middle school students almost never seek treatment on their own. This trend most likely results from the inability of students under age 13 to consult with a mental health professional without parental knowledge and consent. Because middle school students are unable to consult with therapist like Mark without their parents knowledge, they are less likely to seek treatment to protect their privacy.     The most prevalent stigma that Mark has observed with students regarding mental health is that they do not want to admit that something might be wrong with them. Students taking medication or seeking help from a therapist is a constant reminder of their mental illness, making them less likely to seek help. Mark has observed the tendency of students to search the Internet or talk to their peers for answers about mental health issues instead of professionals, teachers or parents, which can be a dangerous option due to the excess of misinformation. Their need for privacy pushes them toward the Internet as a source of information.     Mark has observed a different stigma from parents when regarding mental health issues with their children. If family problems are the root of the anxiety or depression, then parents are less likely to seek help for their children to maintain their privacy. When Mark has asked students whether or not their parents would be happy with them talking to a therapist, they will almost always answer “no.” Also, the varying awareness levels about mental health among parents hinders their action to submit their children to therapy. If parents have been previously diagnosed with a mental health problem, then they are more likely to be aware of symptoms and treatment than parents who have no direct experience.     Counselors and teachers also show signs of stigma about mental health. There is currently no set curriculum for health classes, and some teacher avoid the topic of mental health all together to eliminate the potential for parent conflicts, especially when teaching about sensitive and personal topics such as abuse. To make teachers and school staff aware, Mark currently sends out an email to every staff member explaining what to look for if mental health issues like depression or anxiety are suspected and how to refer students to his services at the beginning of every year. He also annually visits freshman health classes

to advertise the health clinic’s services, including mental health therapy.     The data received from Mark Oldham’s interview exposes the stigmas of each of our target audiences. It can be inferred by the data that encouraging professional therapy before self-diagnosis should be the highlight of any mental health campaign aimed towards middle school students. However, because of the differences in stigmas between audiences, each group must be addressed with different key messages to change their attitudes and actions.     The second interview was conducted on May 11, 2012 with Sam Kimelblot, the school counselor at Agnes Stewart Middle School in Springfield, Oregon. In the interview, Sam discussed the current situation of the mental illness at Agnes Stewart Middle School  and throughout the Springfield district. Prior to working at Agnes, Sam spent five years as an elementary school counselor and is now in her fourth year working in the middle school age group. Her work ranges from student and relationship issues to teacher and parent requests. During the school day, she tries to meet students and call parents when an issue is prevalent.     She pointed out that the students and parents generally don’t ask her with questions or express concerns about mental illness. On the contrary, she is usually the one who does so. As a counselor, she is not allowed to recommend parents to take their kids to counseling but rather refers them to an outside counselor. Kimelbolt typically found success in asking the parents, “are you okay if I give your number to a childhood center?” A lot of parents do not want to admit that their kids are suffering from a mental illness. In one instance she encountered a mom who really didn’t want do anything and appeared to be in denial. She pointed out that parents with low socioeconomic status or substance abuse problems often deny their child’s depression because of the lousy home situation. These parents do not want the school or state to examine their environment. Like Mark Oldham, Kimelbolt acknowledges that the most common mental illness she inspected on middle school students is anxiety. Kimelbolt also discovered the problem of students claiming they are depressed when they really are not. The extent of how much teachers and students know about mental illness is unknown by Ms. Kimelbolt, which is why she would like to see students (and parents/teachers) educated at an earlier age in health classes. The answer of how early students should get started with their mental illness education is neither strongly nor clearly suggested by Kimelbolt. Judging by the information of what she provides, further knowledge of how to properly deal with depression is needed. Conclusion:

   Overall, Lane County HHS would benefit from a campaign designed with an emphasis on recognizing depression symptoms and seeking a counselor or therapist rather than promoting treatments. Our goal is to reduce the negative connotations of stigma so students feel more comfortable seeking guidance and preventing harmful acts. Our campaign is also directed towards educating counselors and teachers regarding awareness of depression symptoms among their students. To eliminate misinformation and self-diagnosis on the Internet, we need to educate students at a younger age about mental illness and depression. The campaign should also be designed to decrease denial and lack of acceptance among parents, so parents feel more comfortable talking about mental illnesses with their children. The question that still remains unanswered is our knowledge to what extent students, parents and teachers are aware of mental illness. In order to know what further educational information needs to be given, we need a greater understanding of the current awareness that we wish to obtain within the next school year. The main focus of the campaign is directed towards recognizing that mental illness is more common than individuals believe, continuing forward with stigma reduction and the importance of seeking therapy instead of self-diagnosis or denial. Goal: Lane County Public Relations will partner with Lane County Health and Human Services to increase awareness and reduce the stigma of depression among our main target audience, students, in an effort to promote early intervention and suicide prevention. Objective 1: Partner with at least four middle schools in the 4J Eugene school district at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year to implement educational programs throughout the academic year. Strategy: Build a stigma reduction campaign directed towards the target audience of middle school students to increase awareness and reduce negative stereotypes. We will use messages to resonate with the target audience that depression is real and treatment is available. Tactics:
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Implement student survey at the start of the 2012-2013 school year to measure beginning awareness levels. Partner with UO Active Minds or the UO Health Center to create an interactive presentation or skit to illustrate the myths about depression and possible steps to take to middle school health classes.

Print additional “What a Difference a Friend Makes” brochures and posters to distribute to health centers of middle schools. Coordinate information tables at various middle schools during Mental Awareness Week in October to provide brochures and answer questions.

Objective 2: Increase awareness about depression and mental illness with parents and school staff from the start of the campaign by 20 percent by June 2013. Strategy: Build a stigma reduction campaign directed towards parents to increase awareness about depression and encourage mental illness education and therapy. We will use messages that resonate with the target audience that their children’s health is a priority and therapeutic services are the best treatment options. Tactics:

Create a public service announcement (PSA) to increase awareness of the symptoms of depression (what depression is); to educate the audience that depression, mental illness, is as normal as physical illness, as well as to inform the audience about ways to deal with depression or to assist someone covering from depression to send in weekly newsletter to middle school parents. Create an online, interactive web-brochure that outlines the signs of depression and provide suggestions for seeking treatment. Host a meeting before the beginning of the school year for middle school counselors to talk with a mental health therapist about the signs of depression and the procedure to take with students that may have a mental illness.

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Objective 3: Attract at least three media stories by local media outlets that inform target audiences about depression, preventive techniques or our middle school campaign by June 2013. Strategy: Develop a media kit that addresses our messages about depression and suicide prevention Tactics:
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Write news releases about the stigma reduction campaign tactics and events. Create a backgrounder that explains the statistics about teen suicide and its links to mental illness.

Write a professional profile on Mark Oldham, mental health therapist for the Eugene 4J school district based off of the interview conducted through primary research.

Evaluation:
Objective 1: Partner with at least four middle schools in the 4J Eugene school district at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year to implement educational programs throughout the academic year. Evaluation: Success in achieving this objective will be determined by the increase in the knowledge and awareness of mental illness and depression from the survey issued at the beginning of the year to the survey at the end of the year. We will assess the educational value of the students’ experiences with the campaign and partnership with UO Active Minds and UO Health Center through a survey conducted to the students. Objective 2: Increase awareness about depression and mental illness with parents and school staff from the start of the campaign by 20 percent by June 2013. Evaluation: Success in achieving this objective will be determined if the survey responses show an increase of knowledge among parents and middle school staff. We will assess the educational value when we receive positive feedback from teachers and parents. If we receive an increase in the number of students seeking therapy, we will have met this objective. Objective 3: Attract at least three media stories by local media outlets that inform target audiences about depression, preventive techniques or our middle school campaign by June 2013. Evaluation: Success in achieving this objective will be determined by gathering all media published that inform about depression, preventive techniques and/or the campaign. We will conduct content analysis of the media for accurate content, fair tone and promotional value. If we receive positive recurrent coverage, we will have met this objective.

Calendar
Phase One (April) Secondary research:

This form of research is already in progress and was ongoing throughout the entire term. The gathering of information began the day the clients presented their problem to us.

Primary research:

Developed surveys appropriate for each target audience (students, parents and teachers) to carry out in the 2012-2013 school year. The two surveys will be distributed to each target audience in the appropriate way starting in the fall of 2012. Students will receive the survey in Health class and parents, counselors/therapists and teachers will receive their survey through an email list that we will request from several middle schools. Conducted one-on-one interviews with a Springfield counselor, Sam Kimelblot and the Eugene school district therapist, Mark Oldham.

***During this phase we will inform our target publics about the stigma of depression and suicide and how to help students dealing with mental illness. Furthermore, we will educate our latent publics (consisting of mainly students and parents) so that they become aware publics. Phase Two (May – June)

Assessed the information from primary research and compared it with secondary research. After analyzing research we moved forward with our Public Relations tactics. With this research, we developed PR tools to disseminate information in the best way to children (grades 6-8) reflecting the information gathered. These tools include: a radio spot, a news release to the media, an event plan, a print ad, a blog post and a questionnaire survey. The tactics will be determined by our client’s preferences and what will best reach our target publics. We organized the research that our client will need to present to the middle school students and other important target audiences.

Phase Three (September)

We will begin to implement the plan into classrooms for the upcoming 2012-2013 school year (this will be conducted by our clients at Lane County Health and Human Services).

***At this phase we will work to transition our target publics form aware publics into active publics who are working to remove the stigma and help those in need. Phase Four (June 2013)

Distribute the survey one last time to all target audiences to see how attitudes have changed throughout the year. This last phase will determine if we achieved our overall goal of reducing the

stigma of mental illness, specifically depression, and increased awareness throughout our target publics.

Budget
Our client at LCHHS gave us a budget to cover printing and a media announcement. We anticipate that our budget and costs will be no more than $500. Printing:
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Posters = $100 “What a Difference a Friend Makes” campaign = $150 PSA/radio spot = $250

Media:

Total = $500