Mental Health Association of Central Oklahoma (MHACO)

Recognizing that one is struggling with their mental health is difficult. There is a huge stigma surrounding mental illness. Rarely do individuals want to tell their employer or family member that they are struggling and need help for fear of being labeled and discriminated against or potentially losing their employment. Once someone overcomes the barrier of realizing they need to seek treatment they must then determine what type of treatment is needed. The mental health system is extremely difficult to navigate, and access to care depends on one’s insurance coverage or ability to pay for services. Connecting with the best program that meets ones needs is crucial for success. Those in need of services claimed they did not know where to start (not enough information) or were overwhelmed by conflicting and contradictory sources (too much information).

Individuals living in central Oklahoma were unaware of the mental health services available. The Mental Health Association of Central Oklahoma (MHACO) has been around since 1952, but over the years the organization struggled with raising the awareness in the community. The Inasmuch Foundation provided a $50,000 grant to support a complete re-branding and awareness campaign for MHACO to connect the over 380,000 people living in the community who currently struggle with mental health issues.


Create a multi-faceted information campaign to inform the public of the services provided by MHACO. We created a two-part plan to coordinate mental health resources in our community and to make knowledge of those resources easily accessible to residents of central Oklahoma.

Desired Outcomes:


• The public is able to access information about mental health issues and services

• Strategic opportunities and relationships identified and developed


• Individuals are able to identify and receive mental health support and services

• Increasing knowledge and more positive attitudes regarding mental health issues and needs among target groups

• Policy and program changes in workplace and in government laws, rules and regulations


• Expanded services and treatment for people with mental health issues

• Reduced stigma regarding mental health in the community

• Enhance and protect rights of people with mental illness and mental health issues


The Mental Health Association of Central Oklahoma hired The Golding Group in January 2011 to re-brand the Mental Health Association and fulfill the grant requirements. The goal was to create a public presence via marketing, advertising and public relations in order to engage and educate those in need about the programs, information and services provided by MHACO. The secondary objectives included securing support for the non-profit organization, professional volunteers for their programing and improving funding/legislation at the State level.

This was to be accomplished by engaging the community via print advertising, television, web, e-mail, community events and social media. The messaging was kept simple and easy to understand with a focus on providing assistance, information and resources to those in need in a variety of ways that best suit individual situations. This strategy took into account that those in need (slight to great) often are unwilling to meet or speak with others due to shame, embarrassment or lack of income. MHACO needed to provide information in a way that was easy to access via web, print and phone for that very reason, but still open to help those willing to ask (via phone or in person).


The Golding Group started by re-branding and focusing the message of the Mental Health Association of Central Oklahoma. The first project was a new, updated identity (logo, cut line and mark). The old logo was dated in style, lacked professionalism and did not visual relate to the profession of mental health. The Golding Group redesign focused on strong, easy-to-read text emphasizing the words Mental Health and the word Association. This was to be clear to the reader of the purpose and remind them this is an non-profit organization and not a State run program. We also incorporated the familiar green ribbon associated with mental health, much like red for AIDS awareness and yellow for veteran issues. The identity package included letterhead, envelopes, business cards, brochures, promotional items and website.

The new cut line “Here With The Help You’re Looking For…” was developed to quickly communicate key concepts:

  • Here: Open and available
  • Help: Not just information, but assistance
  • You’re (you are): Engaging the individual, in a familiar way
  • Looking For: We understand those in need have been struggling to secure the right information, nit sure where to turn
  • … we did not end the sentence, yet kept the conversation open
  • We also utilized increased size, inflection and color to emphasized the word Help, as this is the main concept of MHACO

Mental Health Association of Central Oklahoma PSA on Vimeo.

Next we redesigned the MHACO website for functionality and ease of use. The old website was static and unhelpful. The new site was designed with information broken into four main categories based on the types of people served by MHACO: Youth, Adults/Families, Seniors and Military/Veterans. From there, detailed information about mental health service providers was organized by geographic area to connect those in need to professionals in their area. We also included 24 hour hotlines information for those in immediate need and all program information in a right aligned sidebar on every page to make sure it was easy to access. We also included a calendar of meetings, support groups and other events that those in need could attend without having to contact the offices of MHACO.

We wanted to utilize the impact video, both online and on broadcast television as a major part of the advertising campaign. Making sure to stay clear of mental health stereotypes (depressed looks, peculiar facial expressions, odd behavior, etc.) was a major emphasis of the video producition planning. We produced a 30 second commercial based on the concept of a young mother (dominate demographic of callers to MHACO) who is both alone, lost and unable to get help juxtaposed with the same young mother who is bombarded by others creating confusion and chaos. This imagery addresses the basic problem of those needed help with mental health issues for themselves or a family member: do not know where to start (not enough information) or overwhelmed by conflicting and contradictory sources (too much information). The production grabs the viewers attention by alternating the two scenarios and emphasizes each with stark contrast and dramatic sound design. The commercial ends with the MHACO logo and cut line “Here With The Help You’re Looking For…” to offer a solution and contact information. Note: This commercial won a Silver ADDY award for concept from the Oklahoma City Ad Club.

The commercial was debuted on a prime time broadcast of the show GLEE on Fox 25 in Oklahoma City. This show and particular episode deals with many trials and tribulations of young people including self esteem issues, acceptance and suicide. GLEE is also highly rated for the primary and secondary audiences of MHACO. The commercial was further utilized on the MHACO website,, social media and at United Way campaign events. We also created a presentation for the Executive Director to give at speaking engagements for United Way and the State Department of Mental Health.

Print media ads mirroring the imagery and message of the commercial were the placed in the OK Gazette, Daily Oklahoman, MetroFamily, Tinker Take-off and Journal Record to reach as many citizens as possible in the Central Oklahoma area. Press releases about the programs and resources of MHACO also accompanied the ad placement.

MHACO utilized Facebook and Twitter to share information, provide resources and combat stereotypes / misconceptions about mental health issues in a non-threatening and engaging way for zero cost to the organization.

Other materials created for the Mental Health Association of Central Oklahoma included a trade show display for attending United Way and other community health events as well as give away items such as seed packets (with a message of hope) and cell phone grippers in the shape of the green mental health ribbon with a suicide hot line number. To end the year, we created the 2010-2011 (fiscal year) annual report featuring all the programs and successes achieved by MHACO in 2011.

One of the ways MHACO engaged the community was via informal “friendraiser” events held a local business locations. We invited a small group of thought leaders and community influences to interact with the staff and board of MHACO in a casual setting. This allowed MHACO to gain support from individuals without fear of stigma associated with mental health issues.

We created a monthly E-Newsletter sent to 1,000 individuals with an average open rate of 23%. Articles and information from these newsletters were also shared by readers via e-mail and social media. The e-mail newsletter was another way to engage support minimal cost.

Mental Health Association 2011 Results (after campaign)

  • 524% Increase in Exposure
  • 149% Increase in Clients
  • 463,028 Press Releases Views
  • 260,581 Print Ads Views
  • 60,000 OPUBCO Web Ads Views
  • 49,000 Television Views
  • 1,580 Event Contacts
  • 845,360 Total Impressions

Measured Outcome Results:
• 99% of clients were provided information and referrals

• 93% of clients found MHACO’s information and/or referrals useful and needed no further services
• 93% of clients felt MHACO’s staff had skills and knowledge to perform their services
• The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services suffered the smallest cut out of all State agencies to the 2012 Budget.

• 99% of clients felt increased confidence to make changes in their life
• MHACO had a 524% increase in exposure and 149% increase in clients.

Overall, the awareness campaign was a tremendous success. Extremely high favorable responses, giant increase in exposure/clients and an overall positive impact on funding for mental health issues at the State level. All this was accomplished well under budget and on time. The Golding Group was able to reach all established goals, create phenomenal ROI and produce award winning creative that was impactful and effective.

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