Four key marketing tools for mental health professionals

This post shares my experience in helping mental health professionals with their marketing and business development.  It’s important to be aware that mental health is affecting a very large percentage of the population and, with the funding cuts in recent years, an increasing number of people cannot get the attention and treatments they need from the NHS.

For this reason I noticed in Cambridge, over the last 5 years, a strong increase in demand for private mental health treatments like counselling, psychotherapy, clinical psychology, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and psychiatry.

Among the therapies we offer in our clinic some of them are suitable to be marketed to the general public in a similar way to other products and services.  When offering mental health therapies it’s important to remember that there are both ethical and legal reasons to regulate how these therapies are marketed, mostly because they affect vulnerable people who should not be taken advantage of.

In decreasing order of importance the four most important marketing tools for mental health professionals are:

  1. A professionally designed website
  2. Relevant and active presence on social media
  3. Professional directories
  4. Private insurance companies

A professionally designed website

It’s important to have a good website with good SEO (search engine optimisation).  Unless you have previous experience in web design refrain from making one yourself as the result will look amateurish; a professional looking website will payback many times over its investment within weeks or months.  When someone is looking for a solution to their mental health issue they are likely to search online; if they can find your website and it’s a good one, they can realise within a short time you are the right professional to treat them and they can easily make contact with you.

Social media

Many people confuse the use of social media to keep in touch with friends versus the professional use of social media as a marketing tool.  The latter is about creating a presence for yourself as an authority within the mental health profession (e.g. psychology or counselling) and publish or re-publish relevant content about how you can help your patients.  Typical social media that can work for mental health are Twitter to share links of articles from yourself or other professionals, Facebook to collect and share relevant content and Youtube to share videos of yourself or other professionals who are experts  in your profession.

Professional directories

Considering that all of the professions mentioned in this post are heavily regulated you should enlist yourself within professional directories.  These are websites which will check your qualifications and accreditations before accepting you so they offer an extra level of reassurance for patients who can have the peace of mind of using a fully qualified and accredited practitioner  who has been professional vetted.

Private Health Insurance Companies

As I mentioned at the beginning there is reduced availability of mental health treatments from the NHS therefore many people who have private health insurance often decide to use it for their mental health issues.  In these cases, once they have a referral from their GP, and the go-ahead from the insurance they will check the insurance website for a list of local professionals.  While working in similar way each insurance company have their own set fees and minimum requirements to accept a mental health professional within their directories.  It’s worth checking with all of them and decide whether working with all of them or just a few.  Despite the fees paid by insurance companies  usually being below standard market value by 10-30%, I suggest working with them as the cost of acquisition for these patients is minimum and can be used to fill up gaps in the calendar.

Conclusion

For many professionals in mental health, particularly those who just left or are still working  in the NHS, the concept of doing any kind of marketing is awkward.  Mental health, similarly to the medical profession is for many a vocation about helping others.  However as most of us have bills to pay it’s essential to understand what can be done to quickly build up a successful practice which is busy enough to make a living.  The tools and techniques described above can help with that.

Interview with Anna Zeffertt

AnnaZefferttAnna, what is your specialisation and how long have you been practising?

I am a Clinical Psychologist and until recently worked for the NHS for 24 years in various mental health and physical health settings in Cambridge, London and Edinburgh. I trained at the University of Edinburgh and did placements in that area of Scotland. Since qualification, I specialised in Child, Adolescent and Family work and throughout also worked with adults.

To be a clinical psychologist you need 3 years postgraduate training leading up to a doctorate, and this means we are a specialised profession with chartership under the British Psychological Society and registration with the Health Care Professions Council.

When did you start working at Salus Wellness and what influenced your decision to work here?

I started working at Salus Wellness in May 2015 after deciding to work in private practice. I live in Cambridge and I wanted to work somewhere local and to provide a local service.  I was influenced to working here as several other clinical psychologists also work at this clinic.

What I really liked was the flexibility of being able to use the rooms on a sessional basis. Salus Wellness has a convenient address and it’s good to give people appointments where I know there is a receptionist on week days and the flexibility to use rooms in the evenings or weekends.

Another reason for working here was just how friendly it was right from the beginning. I just thought ‘yes’ this would be a nice place to work. There is a really good atmosphere here and I always enjoy coming here myself.

How many clients do you see in an average week?

I see about 8 clients per week as I’ve chosen to work part-time.

What is your general view of the facilities offered by Salus Wellness?

It is fantastic that Salus Wellness has such a central location in Cambridge and it’s a comfortable building for clients to come to. It is discreet and they can drop in while in town, and the parking is relatively easy which is a bonus. The facilities are pretty straightforward with a reception area plus clean, comfortable, safe and confidential rooms to work from.

How did the help received from Salus Wellness in terms of running your business, sales and marketing help to develop your business?

I think it is very helpful to have the two meeting structures that Massimo, the Managing Director, provides. There is the “Private Practice as a Business” which are helpful, regular meetings where we talk about provision of mental health or more general health issues amongst a whole range of different practitioners. Also, the free monthly Practitioners Workshop has been helpful in terms of advice with technical things like setting up the website, designing business cards and marketing and developing my practice.

My referrals come from GPs, medical or clinical psychology professionals, private health care insurance such as BUPA, or from direct enquiry.

There is a ‘find a psychologist’ section on the British Psychological Society web-site at bps.org.uk (see in the section ‘psychology and the public’) and my name comes up there in the Directory of Chartered Psychologists when you put in a Cambridge post code.

What are your future plans at the clinic?

I will carry on providing and developing my service through the clinic. I will continue to see the number of clients I have at the moment and hopefully become known more for providing a specialist service for children and adolescents as well as adults. I also specialise in working with trauma responses such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and hope to provide more of a service in this area.

It is great to work within a group of clinical psychologists because we can cross refer and form professional links.

Would you recommend Salus Wellness to other practitioners?

Yes I certainly would. It is a very friendly and comfortable place to work and the meeting structures are great in terms of the support provided.

What advice would you give to new practitioners?

The two meetings are an excellent opportunity to get to know other practitioners and there are a lot of common problems and issues raised when we come together to discuss and share ideas.

 

 

Interview with Susie Renshaw

Susie RenshawSusie, what is your specialisation and how long have you been practising?

I’ve been practising since 2002 and my specialisation is psychotherapy and counselling. I’ve worked a lot with University students and since working privately I have started taking referrals from Employee Assistance Programmes and I work as an associate counsellor for two of these. In this role I help people with emotional and psychological issues which may be impacting on their performance at work.

When did you start working at  Salus Wellness and what influenced your decision to work here?

I started working at Salus Wellness in October 2014. The location, which suited both myself and my clients, was certainly a big factor; being near cafes making it a nice place for people to come to. I liked there being a reception with a waiting area and reception staff  who provide a really friendly welcome which my clients appreciate.

How many clients do you see in an average week?

I see 8-10 clients per week at Salus and I work 2 days a week elsewhere.

What is your general view of the facilities offered by Salus Wellness?

They are very good. It feels like a good, clean and safe environment. I feel safe working here as an independent practitioner. It feels welcoming and warm for people and my clients like coming here and they say they find it really friendly.They also like the location as it’s easy to get to in terms of parking and public transport.

How did the help received from Salus Wellness in terms of running your business, sales and marketing help to develop your business?

For me, I have a background in marketing and PR so I already came with some experience and knowledge in this area. However, it’s been good to work somewhere with a Director who has that marketing and business background and I like the fact that it is a very professionally run practice by someone who is not one of the practitioners. The advantage being that It is run as a business with a strategy which is being developed all the time.

What are your future plans at the clinic?

It is working really well and I’m looking to carry on as I am. I like being part of a multi-disciplinary group of practitioners with whom I have developed a great working relationship.

Would you recommend Salus Wellness to other practitioners?

Yes definitely. There is lots of support available and a really good mix of practitioners from all disciplines.

What advice would you give to new practitioners?

There is lots to learn when starting private practice but it is really worth it for all the benefits you can get from working for yourself. Take up all the advice provided in the workshops by Massimo and other experienced practitioners; network as much as you can and keep open to learning and adapting as you go along.

Interview with James Woodworth

JamesWoodworthJames, what is your specialisation and how long have you been practising?

I’m a Thrive Consultant. The Thrive Programme is a psychological training programme, so I work with clients who have psychological and emotional issues. I’ve been a qualified Thrive consultant since September 2013. I’ve been working in the self-help, wellbeing industry for about 10-15 years in various forms.

When did you start working at Salus Wellness and what influenced your decision to work here?

I started working here since August 2014 and my decision to work at Salus Wellness was based on the fact that I was going to do this as a full-time job. I had been a teacher at a further education college and I wanted to leave the teaching profession to do what I’m doing now full-time. I started to look at clinics where I could rent a room and Salus Wellness offered me what I was looking for. In terms of location, prices and facilities, it seemed like the right place for me.

I live in Cambridge and I remember seeing the outside of the clinic, a good few years ago and thought whether perhaps I would work there one day. I looked at the website and knew the kind of practitioners who worked at here. One of the defining issues is that on the Salus website there is a call for practitioners to join which I found particularly welcoming.

How many clients do you see in an average week?

At the moment I have 6 clients who I see at the clinic throughout the week.

What is your general view of the facilities offered by Salus Wellness?

The 3 talk therapy rooms are good and all things considered I’m very pleased with it.

How did the help received from Salus Wellness help in terms of running your business,sales and marketing help to develop your business?

This has been extremely beneficial and very, very useful because Massimo is a marketer and runs regular free workshops on social media training and marketing that we can all attend has been absolutely critical. Also, help with website design, posters and fliers is all part of it. So the whole ethos here at Salus Wellness is all about being successful in your business and not just being good at what you do with clients. You have to be good at running a business otherwise you wouldn’t have clients.

Salus Wellness is much more than just a clinic where practitioners rent space. The support provided is unique and invaluable for all who work here.

What are your future plans at the clinic?

I’d like to stay at the clinic for the foreseeable future and intend to keep working at my marketing.

Would you recommend Salus Wellness to other practitioners?

Yes I would recommend Salus Wellness to other practitioners.

What advice would you give to new practitioners?

You need to be absolutely focused on the marketing and well informed about good website design and use of social media.