Marketing mental health: People in authority as intermediaries

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Faculty of Business and Public Management


School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure




Henley, N., Jalleh, G., Donovan, R., Silburn, S., Zubrick, S., & Williams, A. (2005). Marketing mental health: People in authority as intermediaries. In proceedings of the 2nd Australian Nonprofit and Social Marketing Conference. Melbourne, VIC: Deakin University


Promotion of mental health in the population provides a major challenge for social marketers, It requires a long-term, holistic approach involving multiple sectors of the community not just mental health professionals. People in authority over others, that is, parents, teachers and employers, could provide a leverage point for a universal intervention to promote mental health in those in their care. In social marketing terms, they could be enlisted as intermediaries. The objective of this study was to investigate what people in authority currently think they can do to ensure those in their care remain mentally healthy. A telephone survey of 1,000 metro and 500 country male and female respondents was conducted in Western Australia. Four types of people in authority were identified (parents, teachers, trainers and supervisors) and asked what they thought they could do, if anything, to ensure that those in their care remained mentally healthy. Responses were coded into dominant themes across the four types of respondents: by providing stimulation (i.e., challenging tasks; variety; training; etc); providing positive reiriforcement (i.e., supportive; focus on positives; etc); good communication (i.e., keep them informed; provide feedback; be approachable; etc); recognize and deal with problems openly and sympathetically; ensure physical activity; not overworking/adequate rest breaks; goal setting; don't disparage/ overcriticise and encouraging relationships with family/others. The data reported here can be used: I) to highlight areas where salience of the important role of people in authority for mental health outcomes can be increased through a mental health social marketing intervention; and 2) to provide a benchmark for evaluating the effectiveness of such a social marketing intervention.