Santa Barbara County Behavioral Health

Gen Z's Role in Normalizing Conversation Around Mental Health

“I just want to tell you and the (CM) crew how much amazing feedback I am receiving from people in our department as well as outside in the community on the website. I feel very proud of having found you and the great work you do. So, thank you for that."

~ Katarina Zamora, Project Manager Alcohol and Drug Program, Prevention Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness

Our Challenge.

Our challenge was to develop an approachable campaign that would resonate with youth and address their specific struggles. The creative process began with honest conversations with youth, focus groups, and market research to learn what media outreach, messaging, and imagery resonated with this important audience. 

Campaign Overview

The Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness faced a significant increase in mental health and substance misuse issues among teens following the COVID-19 pandemic. We harnessed the wisdom of Gen Z into a campaign to help normalize conversations about mental health for youth and parents.  

The Work

The Media Strategy

Using the Social Cognitive Theory, our campaign highlighted local youth as role models to promote self-confidence and inclusive support among their peers. The key message of the campaign was "It's OK Not to be OK," emphasizing the importance of talking about behavioral health and seeking support. 

Our Campaign

We created a youth-focused website and relatable social media content, including videos featuring youth sharing their struggles and wisdom with one another. Additionally, we launched a robust digital ad campaign targeting key demographics, locations, and lifestyles, along with local radio ads and a press campaign to increase community awareness. 

The Results.

In the campaign's first 45 days, over half a million impressions were delivered in Santa Barbara County with an additional 24,461 video views.  

The positive response from the community, local stakeholders, and schools was loud and clear. As a result, SBC Behavioral Wellness was invited to conduct mini- "It's OK" youth forums in local health classes, allowing youth to share their stories, offer support, and normalize discussions about mental health with their peers.