Local radio to promote mental health awareness: a public health initiative.
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BACKGROUND: Public health strategies have focused largely on physical health. However, there is increasing recognition that raising mental health awareness and tackling stigma is crucial to reduce disease burden. National campaigns have had some success but tackling issues locally is particularly important. AIMS: To assess the public's awareness and perception of the monthly BBC Cornwall mental health phone-in programmes that have run for 8.5 years in Cornwall, UK (population 530 000). METHOD: A consultation, review and feedback process involving a multiagency forum of mental and public health professionals, people with lived experience and local National Health Service trust's media team was used to develop a brief questionnaire. This was offered to all attendees at two local pharmacies covering populations of 27 000 over a 2-week period. RESULTS: In total, 14% (95% CI 11.9-16.5) were aware of the radio show, 11% (95% CI 9.0-13.1) have listened and the majority (76%) of those who listened did so more than once. The estimated reach is 70 000 people in the local population, of whom approximately 60 000 listen regularly. The show is highly valued among respondents with modal and median scores of 4 out of 5. CONCLUSIONS: Local radio is a successful, cost-effective and impactful way to reach a significant proportion of the population and likely to raise awareness, reduce stigma and be well received. The format has been adopted in other regions thus demonstrating easy transferability. It could form an essential part of a public health strategy to improve a population's mental well-being. DECLARATION OF INTEREST: W.H. received support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for the South West Peninsula UK. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. L.R. and D.S. were involved in delivering the programmes but had no role in their evaluation.
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