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Stigma of mental illnesses declines as HealthPartners Make It OK campaign marks 10 years

Survey finds that many people are willing to take action to prevent stigma surrounding mental illnesses

January 12, 2023

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – A HealthPartners community campaign is helping to reduce the negative stigma of mental illnesses in Minnesota and western Wisconsin communities, according to a survey by the HealthPartners Institute Center for Evaluation and Survey Research.

The campaign, Make It OK, focuses on reducing the stigma and changing attitudes about mental health and illnesses. Developed in 2012 and 2013 by HealthPartners, Regions Hospital, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Minnesota, and the East Metro Roundtable, the effort aims to increase understanding and create caring conversations.

Evaluators surveyed HealthPartners adult members living in communities where the campaign is active. Nearly 2,000 people responded to the survey. Survey highlights include:

  • The percentage of people who feel that there are negative impressions, stereotypes, or stigma about mental illnesses declined from 63% in 2019 to 57% in 2021.
  • The percentage of people who indicated they wouldn’t tell their friends about mental illnesses declined from 31% in 2019 to 27% in 2021.

There is substantial interest in addressing mental health and opportunity to increase outreach to specific communities:

  • Most people, 75%, have already or are willing to take specific actions against mental illness stigma, for example learning more about mental health, offering support to people with mental illness, and taking a pledge to Make It OK.
  • Results suggest ongoing need for community partnerships and outreach to ensure equitable access to information about stigma and mental illnesses.

Many survey respondents also suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more awareness about mental illnesses, noting that mental health was more likely to be discussed publicly, including in media coverage and social media.

“Make It OK continues to make meaningful and measurable impact by stopping the stigma of mental illnesses throughout communities, yet the work is not done,” said Pahoua Hoffman, senior vice president of community and government relations at HealthPartners. “HealthPartners continues to support this important and collaborative work alongside many partners to champion our community commitment to mental health and well-being for all.”

Since launching a decade ago, there have been 421,459 visits to the website and 23,325 individuals have taken pledges to stand against stigma. Make It OK relies on strong community partnerships, such as the St. Cloud Wellbeing Initiative, Crow Wing Energized and Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative, to spread the message on ending the stigma.

Learn about the progress Make It OK continues to make in our communities in our 10 Year Report to the Community.

About HealthPartners

Founded in 1957, HealthPartners is the largest consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization in the nation. The organization is dedicated to improving health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community, and provides a full range of health care delivery and health plan services including insurance, administration and health and well-being programs. HealthPartners serves more than 1.8 million medical and dental health plan members nationwide. The care system includes more than 1,900 physicians, nine hospitals, 53 primary care clinics, 19 urgent care locations, 23 dental clinics and numerous specialty practices in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. HealthPartners also provides medical education and conducts research through HealthPartners Institute. For more information, visit

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