How AdventHealth for Children Created a Mental Health Movement

By The SHSMD Team posted 25 days ago


Written by: Jaeann Ashton, Marketing Director | AdventHealth | Orlando, FL

What if one conversation can change, or even save, a life? That was the question AdventHealth for Children sought to answer last May, as the health system launched a movement that gets kids and parents talking about mental health. 

Hospitals are in a unique position to address the youth mental health crisis, and AdventHealth for Children has seen firsthand the alarming number of children struggling with anxiety, depression, and even self-harm and suicidal ideation. From 2018 through June 2020, at AdventHealth Orlando’s tri-county hospital system, 1,004 pediatric patients were seen at an emergency department or inpatient unit for a suicidal ideation or self-harm diagnosis and of those, 297 pediatric patients were hospitalized after an emergency department visit, requiring inpatient medical care following a suicidal attempt or self-harm. In 2021 alone, more than 500 children were admitted to our Central Florida ERs for mental health treatment, and our pediatricians typically see upwards of 1,600 children dealing with mental illnesses every year.

Inspired to change those statistics and fueled by the belief that mental health is as important as physical health, AdventHealth for Children launched the Be a Mindleader movement, an innovative campaign designed to break down stigma and empower children, teens and the adults in their lives to start conversations about mental health. By working together with world-class clinicians, community partners, social media influencers and families throughout Central Florida, the campaign has exceeded expectations and, in just one year, transformed people's lives.

Priorities backed by research

AdventHealth for Children’s research found that half of all mental illnesses begin by age 14, and because of the stigma around mental health, it can take up to 11 years to get a diagnosis and seek treatment. These insights shaped the campaign design and targets prevention with parents of kids between the ages of 8 and 12.

The campaign was integrated into elementary schools and afterschool programs. AdventHealth for Children child life specialists held 40 engaging and informative workshops teaching children about emotions and foundational skills for caring for their mental health. 

The branding around the campaign drew inspiration from being the “line leader” at school, where children are honored to be chosen. AdventHealth for Children wanted to translate this positive sentiment to mental health and empower kids of all ages to be mindleaders.

Partnering with Heart of Florida United Way bolstered the Be a Mindleader message and target to include Spanish- and Haitian Creole-speaking communities. For phase two of the campaign, the messaging was transcreated from “Be a Mindleader” to “Lidera ConscienteMENTE.” This multicultural aspect of the Be a Mindleader campaign is particularly important, as Heart of Florida United Way research has found that one in every three Latinos says they struggle with mental health, yet only 5% are open to talking about it. This research reinforced AdventHealth’s commitment to representing children and families of diverse backgrounds in the campaign’s marketing materials and on the health system’s clinical teams. Later this year, the messaging will be transcreated to Haitian Creole, the third-most spoken language in Orlando after English and Spanish, according to the Orange County Library System.

Input from stakeholders has also been key. The AdventHealth for Children Mental Health Advisory Board meets quarterly, bringing together representatives from across Central Florida including Orange County Public Schools, the Florida Department of Health, the Early Learning Coalition, community nonprofits, insurance companies and other pediatric health systems to help identify strategic priorities for community based mental health needs and provide feedback on the mental health program and Be a Mindleader campaign.  

Grassroots messaging and partnerships

The de-stigmatization campaign kicked off in May 2023 with the launch of dedicated social media channels and the award-winning, a one-stop shop for content on trending mental health topics and expert advice for starting conversations about tough topics and helping children talk about their feelings. The site also includes crisis resources and videos with our pediatric mental health providers.

The website has garnered over 77 million impressions since it launched and was named Best Patient Website by Healthcare Digital Marketing Awards.

Through AdventHealth for Children's mission to create more “Mindleaders” in the community, the organization's marketing team designed a grassroots campaign, relying on relationships with media partners to secure in-kind advertising on local TV and radio stations, in newspapers, parenting magazines and business journals, as well as on podcasts and across social media. Additionally, AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division communications team ran a comprehensive earned media campaign targeting similar outlets and publications that reached as many as 28 million people. One tactic, a Facebook Live timed just before the first day of school, allowed parents and reporters to ask an AdventHealth for Children pediatric psychiatrist questions about youth mental health at a time that can be challenging for some children.

Through outreach and engagement in the community and partnerships with local school districts, community groups and pro sports teams, our presence included 22 events and connecting with over 35,000 children and parents. Learnings included having creative collateral for kids 8 to 12, like coloring stations and mirrors with positive affirmations, was just as important as sharing conversation starters and information on mental health services.

Being front and center at Orlando Magic games, Valkyries volleyball matches, the Disney Dreamers Academy, local walks for the National Alliance of Mental Illness and Mental Health Association, school events and even county fairs not only helped spread the Mindleader message but also recruit parents and kids to become ambassadors and join the cause.

Also, the movement teamed up with national influencer Ashley Eckstein, voice of Star Wars’ Ahsoka Tano and mental health advocate. Uniquely talented in connecting with kids, Ashley helped create a video series all about practicing mindfulness that was featured online, in social channels and even at the children’s hospital.

Establishing a mental health program

The Be a Mindleader campaign builds on a partnership between AdventHealth for Children and Dr. Phillips Charities to establish Central Florida’s first comprehensive pediatric and adolescent mental and behavioral health program. Made possible with a $6 million grant from Dr. Phillips Charities, the growing program expands access to pediatric mental health care, increases early diagnosis and intervention, helps families navigate the complex mental and behavioral health care system, and reduces ER visits and hospitalizations for children. Recognizing the nationwide shortage of pediatric mental health providers and the long wait times for appointments, AdventHealth for Childrens ensures patients can get into counseling appointments in a matter of weeks, sometimes sooner, and stay in our care for up to six months while we help them set up a longer-term solution.

Establishing the mental health program and launching the Be a Mindleader campaign demonstrates AdventHealth for Children’s commitment to whole-person care, which includes the body, mind and spirit. In tandem with each other, the program and campaign effectively connected families with our mental health services, resulting in increased utilization and support for children requiring counseling. Furthermore, our program’s emerging expertise and resources provided a solid foundation for the campaign’s messaging, making it credible and effective in raising awareness and offering valuable guidance to parents.

The results


Since launching a year ago, the Be a Mindleader movement has seen tremendous success. AdventHealth for Children was recognized as one of the “Top 36 Hospitals with a Great Mental Health Program” by Becker’s Hospital Review. Demand for the program’s counseling and psychiatric services has been enormous, with 946 patient visits in 2023 and 89 patients helped by our navigator.

In a survey of nearly 200 families across Central Florida, 77% of parents said they were more likely to discuss mental health with their kids, and there was an increase in the number of parents who said they felt more comfortable striking up conversations, identifying warning signs of mental health conditions, and finding relevant resources for their children after seeing the Be a Mindleader messaging.


In recognizing the essential role hospitals play in addressing the youth mental health crisis, AdventHealth for Children was also able to build on its reputation in the Central Florida community as champion of whole-person care where children’s emotional and mental wellbeing is just as important as their physical health.