Monthly, weekly and even certain days are designated as health observances to generate awareness to health concerns. For May, the focus was Mental Health Month. However, nearly every month of the year includes some sort of mental health observance, emphasizing the diversity of mental health illnesses—from eating disorders and PTSD to anxiety and depression.
Despite attempts to build awareness, however, the stigma attached to mental illness, including by those who suffer from it, largely keeps mental health in the shadows. But by using psychographics to identify which healthcare consumers are more prone to anxiety and depression—and how best to communicate with them—healthcare providers may help reduce the stigma, raise awareness and help patients overcome their mental health issues.
Shining a light on mental health needs
As Psychology Today pointed out in a recent blog: “The leading cause of disability isn’t cancer or chronic pain, though public health campaigns might make you think otherwise. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. What’s more, it’s held that place for many years.”
The annual cost of treating mental illness in the U.S. alone—including both inpatient and outpatient services—reached $201 billion in 2013, exceeding spending on heart conditions, cancer, diabetes and a number of other health concerns.
The founding director of the Center for Sustainable Health Spending at Altarum Institute, Charles Roehrig, Ph.D., notes: “We are getting better at preventing heart disease and stroke, but spending on anxiety and depression has grown very rapidly within the mental disorders area.”
Given such incentives to address mental health, hospitals and other healthcare need to understand which healthcare consumers are more likely to struggle with anxiety and depression. For example, data compiled by NAMI shows prevalence of mental illness by race:
- 19.3 percent of white adults
- 16.3 percent of Hispanic adults
- 18.6 percent of African-American adults
- 13.9 percent of Asian adults
- 28.3 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native
But demographics alone don’t tell the whole story. Based on our own research into health and wellness-focused psychographics, c2b solutions has developed a segmentation model offering 91.1 percent predictability that classifies healthcare consumers into five different segments based on their attitudes, motivations and preferences: Self Achievers, Balance Seekers, Priority Jugglers, Direction Takers and Willful Endurers.
Based on the research, we know that 30 percent of healthcare consumers with anxiety and 31 percent with depression are Willful Endurers. This segment lives in the moment and prioritizes doing what they want, when they want rather than focusing on future consequences or health concerns. They consider themselves to be resilient, able to meet challenges head on. Willful Endurers only go to the doctor when absolutely necessary.
The Psychographic Segmentation Breakdown
What insights do healthcare providers gain? Willful Endurers need to know how a clinician’s recommendation can benefit them today, not some time down the road (even if “down the road” is only a week or month away), and behavior changes must be simple and easy to follow. Small, short term successes are key with Willful Endurers. There are segment-specific keywords and phrases that work with Willful Endurers, just as there are unique word choices that resonate with each psychographic segment.
Understanding this, however, healthcare providers can customize communications to encourage Willful Endurers who do suffer from anxiety or depression to open up and discuss any concerns—perhaps by educating this segment about the link between depression and the physical health issues that are associated with it, and how addressing these issues can yield immediate benefit.
In addition to face-to-face interactions, healthcare providers can also extend their care to patients with depression or anxiety using an automated patient engagement platform. PatientBond, for example, sends emails, text messages and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) calls customized with segment-specific messaging. This allows healthcare providers to maintain a more consistent and immediate relationship with patients when they cannot meet in person; this is especially critical for the Willful Endurer segment.
By tailoring interactions with healthcare consumers based on their psychographic segments, healthcare providers can develop more effective campaigns to proactively engage patients with anxiety and depression—building awareness that will last longer than a traditional health observance month.