Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Miami Dolphin Brandon Marshall's New PSA for Borderline Personality Disorder

In July 2011, Brandon Marshall revealed that he was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). According to the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder, this serious mental illness centers on the inability to manage emotions effectively. The condition which has strong heritability (68%) and a high suicide rate (10% of adults with BPD die by suicide), produces symptoms such as impulsivity, anger, and chaotic relationships.

When Brandon announced his condition this summer, he vowed to become the face of borderline personality disorder. He seems to be following through on his promise, as he has just released a public service announcement (PSA) in collaboration with the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder. The 33-second video is primarily focused on 3 key messages:

1. Prevalence of this condition is high (15 million Americans)
2. There is hope (treatment exists for those who suffer and education exists for families coping with the disorder)
3. There are resources: visit the NEABPD website or follow Brandon on Twitter (@BMarshall19) for more information

I like the PSA for several reasons. It is simple with clear messages (above). The messages are delivered both verbally by Brandon and visually with key words appearing on the screen. The "call to action" is clear. Viewers are directed to the NEABPD website and Brandon's Twitter feed for more information.

I also like that this particular health issue has found a champion or spokesperson. Unlike other mental health conditions like depression with several celebrity spokespeople (e.g., Brooke Shields), less is known about BPD and those who suffer from it. Experts in mental illness stigma like Patrick Corrigan state that there are several strategies for reducing stigma...and one of those strategies is called "Contact". Contact challenges public attitudes about mental illness through direct interactions with persons who have these disorders. The contact does not have to be face to face, but instead can occur through a channel like a PSA.

The strategies that I see for improving this PSA are focused less on its composition, but instead on its distribution/promotion. Although the video has been on YouTube for 6 days, it only has 309 views. Announcements about the PSA are located primarily on football blogs (e.g., Shut Down Corner) or BPD specific websites. It does not seem that the PSA has been picked up by mainstream media or health blogs. This is in sharp contrast to PSAs I've spoken about previously on Pop Health, like in July 2011 when I discussed Kim Kardashian's ovarian cancer research spot which currently has 33,431 views.

Readers- please weigh in: which mental health advocacy organizations would have the best "reach" in promoting this PSA? What other strategies could they use for distribution/promotion?

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