Through a $120,000, two-year, Think Big for Kids grant from YouthBridge Community Foundation, Story Stitchers is creating a series of public service announcements (PSAs) to help change the stigma around mental health care and provide information on accessing it.
Perception Isn’t Always Reality: Mental Health will reduce stigma of mental health care among Black youth in St. Louis City and County through the creation and dissemination of a public service announcement (PSA) campaign. The 24-month project will be led by 10 Black youth (ages 16-24) and 10 adult artist-mentors of color working in collaboration with health experts; community residents; and marketing, media, and communication professionals.
The resulting fact-based, peer-to-peer messaging will reach a wide audience through billboards and public transportation ads in North St. Louis City and County and social media and radio ads through the greater region. Youth are viewed as trusted messengers, driving regional change in knowledge and attitudes on mental illness and accessing mental health care.
Socioeconomic status and mental health are intrinsically connected; improvement in one enables improvement in the other. This innovative PSA project can be easily replicated to tackle stigma, misinformation, and distrust contributing to many other problems facing youth.
Collaborative partner Matthew W. Kreuter, PhD, MPH, Kahn Family Professor of Public Health and Director, Health Communication Research Laboratory at the Institute of Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis wrote, “Story Stitchers works with and within the communities they serve using a collaborative approach between professional and youth artists. These collaborations produce works of extraordinary insight and vulnerability as artists reflect their own experiences and those of their peers and neighbors. Their work centers voices within the community using innovative approaches to storytelling. Story Stitchers has an extensive history of successful programming and collaborative impact that has positively engaged communities in St. Louis City and County.”
Story Stitchers previous work with Public Service Announcements includes Perception Isn’t Always Reality: Boosting Covid Vaccine Confidence for the CDC Foundation in 2022. Artifacts from the campaign are currently on view in the Trusted Messengers exhibition at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum, 1600 Clifton Road, NE, Atlanta GA 30329. The exhibition is on view November 25, 2022 – August 2023.
SAFE! Team which addresses safe firearm storage and teaches children to take #3stepsback if the come across a gun. SAFE! Team was created for the St.Louis Area Violence Prevention Commission and the Office of Violence Prevention in the City of St. Louis Department of Public Safety in 2022 and is currently being pushed out to the public. Story Stitchers will present #3stepsback as a live performance on July 11th, 2023 in O’Fallon Park at the Office of Violence Prevention Kickback Party, 2:00-6:00.