In 2000 the Mental Health Association of Middle Tennessee
created the I.C. HOPE®—Don’t Duck Mental Health©
campaign to dispel the negative perceptions and images
associated with mental illness and mental health issues. The
program aims at bringing mental health education and
awareness into the mainstream in a non-threatening manner.
MHAMT’s Executive Director Angie Thompson shared with
The Bell her thoughts and some lessons learned about the
program, winner of NMHA’s 2005 Innovation in
How does I.C. HOPE deliver its message?
I.C. HOPE’s anti-stigma message-”Don’t Duck Mental
Health®”-appeals to all ages and ethnic groups while
bridging socioeconomic divides. With its friendly face and
healing bandage, I.C. HOPE® shows that mental illness of
any kind is neither shameful, nor unusual, and that when
individuals receive appropriate intervention, they can lead
full and meaningful lives.
The slogan “Don’t Duck Mental Health®” coupled
I.C. HOPE® duck wearing a bandage indicates both the hurt
and healing components of mental illness. The life preserver
sends the powerful message of the value of every life. The
bandage carries the message that there are some “hurts” you
can’t see, but they are real none the less. Using these to
promote prevention reduces the “preaching” and increases
the “teaching.” Our educational curriculum teaches that
mental illnesses are real and treatable medical conditions,
and promotes mental wellness.
How long did it take to devise this project?
The I.C. HOPE® project was conceptualized in November of
1999. Over the past five years, we developed additional
campaign components, including the Public Awareness
Kiosk Campaign, curriculum development, a Web site, the
life-size character, broadcast and plush puppets, and
replication sites. We continue to add new elements to the
program based on feedback from educators, teachers and
mental health advocates.
Who had a hand in developing the project?
The I.C. HOPE® project was developed in-house. A task
force of board members and MHAMT staff members took
the core elements of the project and created the public
awareness and educational packages for replication. When
we approached the local NBC-TV affiliate requesting that
they broadcast PSAs, they encouraged us to have the lifesize
character and puppet
What were the
biggest hurdles you
faced in implementing
The I.C. HOPE® project
required a lot of patience and
faith in its goals. Thinking of
an innovative approach to
implementation took energy,
staff time and a commitment
by not only the staff and board members but also by funding
partners. Balancing these things with our already existing
programs was the biggest hurdle we faced.
What do you think are the keys to your
It provides an engaging, tangible image that both children
and adults can easily relate to. And our emphasis on both
prevention and education, especially the focus on caring for
our own mental health, helps to provide relevance for the
audiences. The tools of the I.C. HOPE® program are easy to
use and readily adapted to many settings. The materials are
customized for the replication sites, and training and
technical assistance is provided to them. In addition, I.C.
HOPE’s presence and understandable messages appeal to
local funding sources, which help to sustain the program.
Tell us a bit about your approach to busting
stigma and how it’s succeeded for you.
Our approach is unique and sound from an anti-stigma
marketing perspective. Our message replaces the word
stigma with hope. A basic concept of marketing is that
people see what they hear; therefore, using the word stigma
to erase stigma is counterproductive. Changing the emphasis
to hope helps people see that there’s hope relative to issues
surrounding mental illness.
Tell us how your program has achieved a
balance between health promotion and
educating people about mental illness.
I.C. HOPE’s bandage is a universal symbol that indicates
that there is a wound but that it is in the process of healing.
It sends the message that mental illnesses are real and that treatment
is effective. By focusing on health, as opposed to illness, we can
reach a broader audience. Children as young as 5 years old can understand
concept of being healthy and teachers aren’t afraid to have
a presentation about
health. On the other hand, schools would not welcome a speaker to
kindergarten class to talk about depression, and even adults tend
to steer away
from a community presentation on an “illness.” Our
approach allows us to reach all ages at a level we can all understand.
health is a goal everyone shares.
Nominate a Local Hero for a
Welcome Back Award
Be sure to nominate your local hero for a
2004 Welcome Back Award, which is
sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company. Award
categories include Lifetime Achievement,
Destigmatization, Community Service,
Primary Care, and Psychiatry. The
nomination deadline is Nov. 15, 2005.
How is the project funded?
The initial grant we received was from the HCA Healthcare Foundation.
was coupled with funding from Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital, corporate
foundations and unrestricted educational grants. Once the initial
secured we had substantial subsequent funding within one month.
Continuation funding has been secured through grants from corporate
foundations, private foundations, grants from the Tennessee Department
Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities to provide mental health
education, private donations, unrestricted educational grants, and
replication sites. We have secured funding for discrete components
such as the
Kisok Campaign or the plush puppets, so the funding was generated
component by component basis. As we experienced success with each
component, we were able to build on this success to obtain subsequent
What organizations has the campaign partnered
We partnered with the Cumberland Valley Girl Scout Council to create
Scout Patch. Partnerships with the Tennessee School Guidance Counselors
Association and School Nurses Association have led to countless referrals
requests. We’ve also secured additional funding through United
Way for a
partnership with the Bethlehem Family Resource Center, which supports
programming for children and adults in low-income areas. Additional
partnerships include universities such as the Middle Tennessee State
University and David Lipscomb University, who have provided interns
support the I.C. HOPE® program and offer assistance with the DUCK
How is the I.C. Hope educational curriculum
organized? What does it cover?
We designed two curriculums: one geared toward younger children and
other for middle and high school students. We wanted to keep it at
a level that
anyone could understand, this allowed staff to use the curriculum
setting, not just educational institutions We also wanted to include
information that would assist the presentation facilitator in approaching
individual with concerns. The curriculum not only includes the educational
module but also information on how a diagnosis is made, what treatment
consist of and suggestions for local resources. It’s designed
so that anyone could
pick it up and pull one module out without having to use the entire
When researching the curriculum for younger children,
we wanted to use
children’s books that weren’t specifically about mental
health, but could be
related to mental health. We felt it was important to use books found
in the library and readily accessible. We contacted publishing
companies to get permission to use a picture of the book in the
module as well as permission to specifically reference the book
and characters in the book through-out the module. Each
module includes a story, discussion and art activity.
When researching the curriculum for older students,
included topics that people deal with daily. Each module
includes a science based lesson, discussion and individual or
group activities to reinforce information learned.
Did educators have a hand in the curriculum’s
We interviewed teachers and counselors to determine what
would fit into their curriculum. A meeting with the Tennessee
Guidance Counselors Director also assisted in the
development of the curriculum. We presented and tested our
materials at various sites, made changes based on audience
feedback, and distributed the final to teachers and counselors
across the state.
How do you train teachers to use the curriculum?
We developed a “train-the-trainer” program to train teachers
and guidance counselors on implementing the curriculum. The
MHAMT provides materials to teachers and counselors across
the state who are interested in presenting the program
independently, but agency staff is also available to go to the
schools and conduct the lessons. We offer technical assistance
on an ongoing basis to any individuals presenting the
What outcomes have you observed?
In the past we had difficulty scheduling mental health
education programs in schools. Now we have teachers and
counselors calling the first week of school to get their class on
the calendar. The children now recognize I.C. HOPE® and
look forward to visits from MHAMT staff. Counselors,
teachers and principals call us for other general mental health
information. In the past year 87 percent of the students
surveyed indicated they increased their knowledge about
mental health and knew where to seek help for services.
How do you evaluate the results of the program?
We use pre- and post-test surveys, monitor requests for
additional programming, track Web site hits, calls generated,
and requests for information and referrals. Teacher evaluations
are also a valuable tool.
Where would you like to take the program
We would like to add an assembly show that could take I.C.
HOPE’s messages to larger school audiences, health fairs, day
cares, camps and other public venues. We have had requests
from some schools specifically for an assembly style
presentation as they cannot accommodate a classroom
presentation but are interested in mental health programming.
We would also like to create children’s books featuring I.C.
HOPE® and an I.C. HOPE® activity/coloring book.
Can other MHA’s use the I.C. HOPE program?
The MHAMT has developed licensing packages that allow
other MHA’s to secure the I.C. HOPE® program materials
with customization to their MHA. This customization is
appealing to local foundations, businesses and other funders in
the MHA’s local community. So far, the program has been
licensed for use by MHA’s in Illinois, Ohio, Alabama and
Kansas. All have reported their success in securing funding,
providing programming and engaging the community in
numerous ways to spread their mental health messages.
The public can seek help through the MHAMT’s
DUCK LINE at 615-777-DUCK, toll-free at 866-535-DUCK and online