Deconstructing Stigma: A Very Public Multimedia Project about Mental Illness (HLOL #162)

Adriana Bobinchock is the senior director of Public Affairs and Communications for McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Bobinchock has worked in healthcare communications for more than 17 years and has a keen interest in educating the public about mental health. In 2016, Bobinchock along with her colleague Scott O’Brien, spearheaded McLean’s national public awareness campaign Deconstructing Stigma: A Change in Thought Can Change a Life.

In this podcast, Adriana Bobinchock talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Deconstructing Stigma. What this project is, why it got started, who’s involved, and how it is helping educate the public about mental illness.
  • Ways this project uses photos, personal stories, statistics, social media, partnerships, and public space to convey a difficult, yet important, health message.
  • Suggestions about ways to create innovative, meaningful educational projects of your own.

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 13, 19, 31, 38, 40

Read the transcript of this podcast.


  1. Christian F. Bormann says

    Adriana–I listened to your Podcast just now–and, I saw first hand your display at Boston Logan airport last week. This is an incredible set of ideas beautifully implemented. I am a trustee at Carrier Clinic, a 200-bed, 100+ year old acute care behavioral health hospital in Belle Meade, New Jersey and the ever present issue and challenge of stigma is such a battle. Our CEO often reminds us that, “Unlike primary care or specialty care services, in behavioral health, we are trying to provide the necessary care to 1 in 4 citizens who don’t know or admit they need help.” The reason why is often due to the stigma in society about behavioral health. We have all spoken about it [stigma], and blamed it, and tried to erase it by calling attention to is, but you are doing something powerful about it. Talking about these very common mental health challenges is certainly not easy, but breaking down the barriers by having people share their personal life experiences, similarly to what we see in other medical conditions (e.g cancer, diabetes, coronary disease, etc) is a huge step towards treating and helping people. Perhaps at a time in our society, when maybe we are starting to accept more about people and their individuality in general, this is our window to deal with mental health issues more effectively too. I guess one of the questions I would have for you is, given any focused strategy in messaging, particularly in Health Literacy, have you considered how you might be able to measure the success or impact of this campaign?
    Thank you, and McLean Hospital, for taking such a bold, informed, and compassionate step towards breaking down these barriers to care. We look forward to hearing about your Phase II!

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