Evaluation of Los Angeles County’s 2019 “Spark the True You” Mental Health Campaign

In 2019, Los Angeles County, in partnership with the Los Angeles Sparks basketball team, conducted a promotional campaign involving a series of events and associated materials under the title “Spark the True You” (STTU). The campaign’s goals were to destigmatize mental illness by normalizing the experience of mental health problems; to educate, assist, and activate a community of support for military women, women veterans, and their families; and to highlight the value of women veterans to their communities. Many women veterans experience posttraumatic stress disorder or depression or have experienced military sexual trauma, and rates of suicide are 1.8 times higher among women veterans than nonveterans.

STTU involved events related to employment opportunities, veteran programs, stress management, self-care, families as sources of both stress and support, rehabilitation, homelessness, and diet and exercise, and STTU was also integrated into Sparks games. In addition to the games and events, advertisements on local television, posts on social media, and street advertising were used to promote awareness of STTU and its messages.

The project team evaluated the reach and impact of the campaign using online and in-person surveys. Overall, although the STTU campaign sometimes struggled to reach individuals, it successfully provided new information about how to improve mental health and access relevant resources among those it did reach. The most-successful methods of outreach appear to have been Sparks games and social media posts. Most participants perceived STTU events and materials as providing new information about the key topics targeted by the campaign, including mental health and how to connect to care.

The research described in this report was funded the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) and conducted by RAND Health Care.

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