InforMH health

Bridging information gaps around mental health issues in Jordan

Leveraging people’s existing practices to bridge the information and stigma gaps that prevent people from seeking mental health and psychosocial support.
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InforMH is at the Prototype stage

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Decision-Making During COVID-19

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Medicine Bank

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InforMH

Jordan

Leveraging people’s existing practices to bridge the information and stigma gaps that prevent people from seeking mental health and psychosocial support.

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education

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A growing body of research points to the outsized impact of mental health issues in the refugee population. Common mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder tend to double during emergencies, and tend to impact the most vulnerable most powerfully. Mental health issues and poverty also form a self-reinforcing cycle which can make it challenging for people to rebuild after facing trauma. Mental illness remains a taboo with significant cultural barriers to identifying challenges and seeking care.

In March 2019, in response to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jordanian government imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, compounding mental health issues for the most vulnerable. In response, the IRC began prototyping a digital campaign, known as InforMH, aimed at bridging information gaps around mental health issues.

InforMH works by leveraging people’s social networks, where people often turn when they first experience mental health problems, to deliver messaging around mental health in a way that encourages help-seeking behavior. The purpose behind InforMH is to share and source mental health content that is community driven.  This means we lean towards experts from the community, embrace dialogue and responsiveness in a scalable way, and put forward community-driven and -led solutions.

December 2020 | Second campaign ends

Our Facebook campaign reached people over 1.406 million times in Jordan, and we had a cumulative reach of about 1,900 people on WhatsApp. Over the course of the campaign, 47 posts were shared, including three Facebook Live events facilitated by a mental health & psychosocial support expert. Results show that: 

  • Posts related to stress and anxiety got much more engagement than posts related to depression
  • Shorter videos delivered by experts were the most successful, with videos discussing somatic symptoms, or physical symptoms, amassing the highest view count 
  • The more relatable the content is for the target audience, the more likely they are to engage with the post, underscoring the importance of community-driven content
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October 2020 | Second campaign, “Let’s Talk”, begins

This Facebook and WhatsApp campaign is designed to run for a period of five weeks, with each week dedicated to a theme (anxiety, depression, somatic symptoms, types of services, and psychological support to loved ones). Updated elements from the previous iteration of this prototype include:

  • Storytelling at the core. In our rapid evidence review, we found that storytelling can be effective in changing health behaviors. We designed several different characters that would resonate with our target audience and used those characters to design and send out 5-7 posts per week.
  • Behavioral principles, such as including simple and direct actions and framing content as “helping others” to destigmatize seeking help, were incorporated while designing the campaign content. 
  • Chatbots. In order to scale, we started using the Turn.io platform to help us create a WhatsApp chatbot to automatically manage hundreds of chats. 

September 2020 | Engage community members in Jordan for next phase of campaign

We engage Jordanian community members from Syria, Iraq, Sudan, and Yemen to test and iterate on the content of the next campaign, with the aim of making our content relatable and appropriate in a way that is appealing. This ensures our content would be effective prior to launch and allow us to focus on using our tools to reach as many people as possible.

July 2020 | Rapid evidence review on mental health social media campaigns

We conduct a rapid evidence review on social media campaigns around mental health to compile best practices from similar interventions. A couple of key takeaways include:  

  • Sharing examples of people successfully seeking help increases trust and promotes help-seeking behaviors. This is especially true for men.  
  • Training people to support others can also encourage individuals to seek help

May 2020 | COVID-19 mental health campaign ends

Over 3000 people responded to our survey, and the campaign cumulatively reached 437k people on Facebook and several hundred people through Whatsapp. Initial findings showed that:

  • Sharing timely and relevant information led to high engagement and organic sharing amongst family and friends, even after the ad campaigns concluded.
  • Ensuring two-way communication engagement on social media led to informal information swapping amongst community members, promoting the de-stigmatization of mental health issues and providing a forum for sharing coping-skills.
  • The IRC was trusted as a source of information and our clients were generally comfortable spreading the information we shared to their family and friends.
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April 2020 | In response to COVID-19 in Jordan, we are fast-tracking the testing of the InforMH prototype

The Jordanian government imposes a strict lockdown in the wake of COVID-19, and we begin a Facebook and WhatsApp campaign aimed at helping people address mental health needs. The campaign includes an online survey seeking information on how the lockdown is impacting people’s wellbeing and what kind of wellbeing-related information they need. The aim of this campaign is to generate engagement and community by encouraging people to share their own wellbeing tips so others like them in similar situations can receive help. The topics covered in this campaign include emergency helplines and peer videos; how to beat boredom; wellbeing tips; sleep hygiene tips; and guidelines for providing psychological first aid to friends and family.

December 2019 | Five initial prototypes created

This month, the mental health team wrapped up the idea generation phase of work with the development of five initial prototypes. These prototypes aim to: 

  1. bridge information gaps;
  2. scale the number of care providers;
  3. integrate mental health service provision into existing business models; and
  4. help people learn to identify mental health needs on their own.

Testing of these prototypes will begin in the new year.

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October 2019 | Workshops identify and prioritize key barriers and generate potential solutions

Key barriers to accessing mental health treatment were identified, along with some initial ideas for solutions. Some of the barriers identified as most pressing included:

  • lack of trained service providers
  • people’s lack of awareness about mental health issues
  • stigma around mental health issues
  • limited trust in services
  • confidentiality
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August 2019 | Design assessment kick-off

An assessment to better understand user experience of mental health and psychosocial support services in Jordan is kicked off, following approval by the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Working Group

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February 2019 | Four focus areas selected for further ideation

Of the eight areas in which initial scoping was conducted, four were selected: voluntary and spontaneous returns; mental health; urban housing; and information flows.

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July 2018 | Scoping exercise to understand problem areas

Eight problem areas arose from various sources, including community-driven Mahali lab, and work in the Jordan and Lebanon country offices. These areas were: urban housing, mental health, cash targeting, market interventions, voluntary returns, information flows, healthcare service delivery, and smart humanitarianism. IRC-Zolberg Fellows and IRC staff carried out desk research along with discussions with community members.

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July 2018 | Collaboration and team-building

Work underway to build a team and connect with relevant stakeholders in Jordan

The Airbel Impact Lab at IRC is a team of researchers, strategists and innovators committed to the accelerated design, rigorous evaluation and cost-effective scaling of the most impactful solutions supporting people affected by crisis.