DDPHE Releases Anti-Stigma Campaign Formative Assessment Final Report

Published on June 16, 2022

Surveys and interviews conducted with community members and service providers to understand mental health stigma in Denver

As part of the effort to reduce stigma related to mental health conditions, Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) recently released the final Formative Assessment report from the first phase of their Anti-Stigma Campaign project. The Assessment found that people with personal experience with behavioral health conditions have significantly higher levels of stigma than people in the friends and family and general population groups, and that people with a serious mental health condition had significantly higher scores on four stigma dimensions compared to people with a non-serious mental health condition.

“While stigma exists around many health conditions, it is especially pervasive when it comes to people with mental health conditions,” said DDPHE Executive Director Bob McDonald. “Understanding the groups of people most impacted by stigma and the types of conditions that are most stigmatized will enable us to better plan for future needs in the city and allocate current resources more effectively.”

DDPHE will use the findings of the Formative Assessment to inform the next phases of the campaign and other work involving mental health stigma in the community. The three primary objectives for DDPHE’s Anti-Stigma Campaign project include:

  • Measuring baselines of knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs that result in stigma associated with behavioral health conditions (i.e., substance use and mental health conditions) in Denver.
  • Increasing empathetic responses and decrease adverse responses to behavioral health conditions in the general population.
  • Reducing stigma as a barrier to accessing services for people with behavioral health conditions and their loved ones.

The Anti-Stigma campaign project is part of Empower Denver, the city’s strategic plan to improve behavioral health services for those experiencing a crisis. Research from the Formative Assessment will ultimately inform an informational campaign designed to reduce stigma around mental and behavioral health conditions.

Building upon research conducted as part of the Anti-Stigma Campaign project, DDPHE is now conducting a citywide Behavioral Health Needs Assessment. Funded through Denver’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation included in Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s 2022 budget, the Behavioral Health Needs Assessment will provide a  comprehensive understanding of needs related to behavioral/mental health services across the service continuum: prevention, intervention, care and treatment, harm reduction, and recovery. The goal of the Behavioral Health Needs Assessment is to understand the current behavioral health landscape and determine the unmet needs of services that can inform the implementation of the funding to address those gaps.

The Anti-Stigma Campaign project is a collaboration with DDPHE, Analytics and Insights Matter, Arrow Performance, and Circuit Media. More information about the project is available here.