Mental healthcare is distressingly overlooked throughout the country and worldwide, but attention is picking up. More and more people, businesses, hospitals, and clinics are either rolling out, improving, or increasing access to mental healthcare programs.
This development is significant for the average individual who wants mental healthcare, but it presents a new problem to these businesses and practices: how do you find new patients?
How can you successfully market your mental healthcare services? The usual route is to make use of internet marketing. But, since you’re not the only practice getting into it, competition is fierce. Here are a dozen tips for doing so successfully.
Mental healthcare is an often-underappreciated form, but it’s no less important than physical healthcare. However, mental healthcare and physical healthcare are both considered healthcare topics, meaning they fall under Google’s YMYL algorithm, and there are particular specific concerns you’ll need to address. Luckily, in addition to our mental healthcare-focused content below, you can read more about YMYL and Medical SEO in these two posts:
First, read on for our twelve tips for designing and marketing a mental healthcare program or practice.
Building a web presence is one of the first steps to marketing a mental healthcare practice. Most of the rest of the tips on this post have to do with your website, so that’s step one, but it’s not all you have to do.
Make sure you also add yourself to provider directories. Much like how sites like ZocDoc and HealthGrades allow physicians to add themselves to the directories, mental healthcare directories also allow you to add your practice. Look into directories such as:
Additionally, various state and local agencies offer directories for regional providers. On top of those, you’ll want to look into standard medical provider directories and general business directories like YP and the all-important Google Business Profile.
Marketing in mental healthcare isn’t quite like other forms of marketing. It is, in broad strokes, but you have an additional challenge to overcome. Specifically, mental healthcare is often viewed as somewhat taboo to discuss or be open about, and many people encounter thoughts such as “it’s not bad enough to seek help” or “other people have it worse, so I don’t want to take their place.”
The difficulty lies in sensitively overcoming those thoughts. It is essential to know what you’re talking about, speak on it with sensitivity, and offer compelling options to people with minds that inherently reject the idea of seeking or receiving help.
It’s a difficult hurdle to overcome, but it’s one that you need to overcome to succeed in attracting new clients.
Some mental healthcare facilities offer treatment and therapy for virtually any mental or behavioral issue. Some will focus on specific kinds of issues. You might specialize in treating people with bipolar disorder, ADHD, or depression; you might work with addiction primarily. There are many different specialties.
It doesn’t do you much good to write about treating addiction and substance abuse if you don’t offer services for those issues, after all. You want to use your content to showcase your expertise and to do so specifically in a manner that reaches and resonates with the kinds of people you want to attract for treatment.
Remember, as well, that certain kinds of demographic information can be part of your target audience. However, ensure you aren’t violating any laws or regulations about equal access to care!
A key element to marketing anything online is content. Content marketing is the core of most online marketing today, and all content marketing needs root pages as conversion targets. These will be dedicated service pages with primary keywords like “ADHD Treatment” or “Therapy for Depression” or whatever else you’re offering. They will discuss the treatment options you provide in detail and have a call to action for people to click through to sign up for an appointment, using whatever service you use for the purpose.
Each dedicated page will be relatively static and will be a target for links from other content. As such, they must be robust and well-written to convey all of the relevant details you need to convince someone to seek treatment.
Remember, too, that these are often aimed at people already familiar with your content, so they don’t necessarily need to be introductory to the topic.
Keywords make the world go ’round, at least online, so you need to use them throughout your content. The question is, what keywords do you use? Figuring that out involves dedicated keyword research, which can be quite a complex task.
You can get a basic idea of some possible keywords by browsing lists like this, but those don’t give you much information about competition or difficulty ranking. Instead, we recommend performing your own research according to processes like those outlined here and using tools such as Google Trends, Answer the Public, and even Google’s autocomplete and related queries.
Text content is the bread and butter of every website, but you can make your practice more attractive and compelling if you can produce other forms of content to reach your audience (in a sensitive and personal manner, of course.)
The two most valuable kinds of content are images/infographics and video. Images are powerful on their own – a picture is worth a thousand words – but infographics are even better. A simple, graphical, compelling way to demonstrate expertise, an infographic can be an excellent way to make someone think, “huh, maybe this applies to me after all.”
Videos, meanwhile, have a high bar to clear to produce them. You need to write a script. You need to film or animate it with good video and audio and demonstrate empathy and authority – basically, everything you need in an actual consult, but with added video production on top. If you can do them well, you can take advantage of sites like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
One of the most challenging aspects of marketing in mental healthcare is the barriers you need to overcome to get someone to decide to book an appointment. You don’t need to make things harder for yourself, and it’s essential to be as clear and straightforward as possible.
Decision paralysis is a common reason many people avoid taking the next step in a process, and it’s even more common amongst those who are neurodivergent or who suffer from mental health issues. Thus, you want your site design to be as clear and straightforward as possible. The more distractions and options a visitor has, the less likely they are to click their way through to the “schedule appointment” page.
We’ve mentioned this a few times, but it’s worth making it explicit: your website isn’t the only venue you should use for marketing.
In addition to your website, you should consider:
You can find complete guides online for virtually every kind of specific marketing, or you can ask us for assistance. Feel free to reach out in the comments or contact us directly.
Part of knowing what platforms to use is knowing where your target audience spends their time. Online, this can mean Facebook Groups, specific subReddits, or any number of local niche communities. Offline, it can be anything from local businesses to other medical facilities.
Of course, you don’t want to play into stereotypes here. Far more people could use mental healthcare than it may seem, and reaching people who might not even think about it with your message is essential for raising awareness and attracting new potential patients.
Most mental healthcare facilities are either small departments of more extensive healthcare facilities or hospitals. Some facilities are stand-alone practices and clinics, and very few are larger state-wide, national, or even international organizations.
If you’re local, this means that most of the time, you’re not catering to the whole country or even your state. You’re likely targeting people in your city and the surrounding areas.
The “if necessary” part applies to those large state or national organizations and to online-only or online-first facilities that can offer things like telehealth appointments and therapy over the phone or Zoom. You’ll know if you fall into those categories, but local keywords can also be important for you.
When creating content, you aren’t necessarily going to reach the people you need to reach because those people may not have reached a point where they can ask for help. So, you reach the people by creating content that they can find compelling to share on their social feeds or with their friends directly. Indirectly reaching your target audience is still a good way of building awareness and acquiring a new audience, even if they aren’t ready to come into your practice at this very moment.
There’s no one way to make sharable content. Just strive to produce content that is quick to read and digest, makes compelling points, and resonates with your target audience.
Own Voices is a concept that started in 2015, when the YA author Corinne Duyvis promoted it as a hashtag, as a way for people of marginalized groups (be it ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, or neurodivergent people) to promote content they’ve created focusing on telling their own stories or on writing about characters with the same experiences. There’s some pushback to using the term now, but we’re not saying you should use it quite like that for this marketing tip.
Instead, using the stories, voices, and anecdotes of the people you treat (with their permission; no HIPAA violations here) in your marketing can be highly effective. Encourage people to tell their stories in a way that resonates with others in the same situation. Being genuine and reaching out to people in a language they understand is much more compelling than top-level marketing copy and cynical keyword usage.
The key here is working directly with the people who have been through these experiences – and your treatment – and are successfully moving forward. These are your most powerful brand advocates, and partnering with them will help you reach others similarly.
If you need assistance setting up a marketing plan for your mental healthcare practice, contact us. We’re here to help you help others.