Framing Tools: How To Translate the Science of Child Mental Health?

Photo Credit: Creative Commons on Flikr, Anantal

In 2008, FrameWorks began a multi-year study of American thinking about child and family mental health.  Building on a decade of research on public perceptions of children’s issues, this research was designed to compare expert understanding with public patterns of thinking and to use framing research to close the conceptual gap.

We have a full suite of framing tools available for advocates that are on the frontline of communicating this important issue.  The tools help child mental health advocates tell a “core story” of child and family mental health, using framing techniques to plug the cognitive holes in lay understanding of this critical issue.

Among those tools include:

  • Talking Points
 A reminder of the core elements of the children’s mental health frame for use in preparation for media interviews, editorial board visits, or other public communications.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
 Common questions about children’s mental health, with examples of effective and less-effective responses to each question.
  • Sample Op-Ed
 This is an example of how to apply the framing strategies on children’s mental health to the format of a guest editorial in a newspaper.

They also include these key framing guides:

  • Navigating the Swamp. A graphic representation of the swamp of dominant patterns of thinking about children’s mental health. This can serve as a reminder of the themes in public thinking that your communications should avoid.
  • You Say…They Think. 
 An analysis of a series frame clashes – you say one thing and the public thinks another – which shows how certain ways of framing children’s mental health can get eaten in the swamp.
  • Basic Message Template. The outline of a new frame for communicating about children’s mental health. The talking points, FAQs, and Sample Op-Ed in this toolkit show a variety of ways to apply this basic template.
  • Notes on Leveling. Some additional considerations about using the Leveling simplifying model.

How are you incorporating the core story on child mental health? Let us know and we will feature your organization in an upcoming post!

Support for FrameWorks’ research and message development on child and family mental health was largely provided by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, supplemented by initial funding from the Endowment for Health (NH).


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