Developing a Statewide Campaign Against Bullying


As a result of Proposition 63, approved by California voters in 2004, the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission was created to drive transformational change across the state’s mental health system. Partnering with public and private mental health agencies at all levels, the Commission works to ensure that people get the care they need in a timely, comprehensive, effective, and culturally competent manner. 

As part of a statewide effort to support students who have been bullied or are at risk of being bullied, Media Cause partnered with the State of California’s Mental Health Services Accountability and Oversight Commission to conduct research and discovery on the current landscape to develop a comprehensive statewide campaign against bullying.


The Outcome

Our research resulted in three in-depth Insights reports and played a pivotal role in ensuring our campaign and digital solution meet the real needs of young people and supports them in ways that are relevant, authentic, and create lasting impact; aiding the State of California’s Mental Health Services Accountability and Oversight Commission and their mission to transform mental health care for all Californians.

The Challenge

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian American and Pacific Islander youth experienced an alarming increase in bullying, hate crimes, and hate speech.

The State of California’s Mental Health Services Accountability and Oversight Commission wanted to develop a comprehensive statewide campaign, utilizing social media to bring awareness to the issue and connect youth through peer-to-peer support.

The first step in developing this plan was understanding the audience and situation better.

The Strategy

To grasp an understanding of the situation, we needed to conduct a multi-pronged research approach. Bullying affects youth directly, but parents and educators are often involved and aware of the problem. We needed to meet with key stakeholders, conduct a cultural and competitive assessment, and do deep audience research. This culminated in the following:

  • Cultural + Competitive Landscape Analysis
  • 5 Stakeholder Interviews with community organizations
  • Survey of 200+ youth who’ve experienced bullying
  • 9 Focus Groups + 5 In-depth Interviews with Youth, Parents, and Educators
  • Ongoing Partnership with a Youth Advisory Committee for feedback and input

The Implimentation

We started our immersion process by speaking with community organizations and leaders of school districts that work directly with youth in bullying prevention, research, or mental health services. This provided our team with a wide range of perspectives from experts already making an impact in the space.

To understand the cultural context surrounding youth today, we researched the trends, beliefs, and attitudes driving Gen Z behavior. This included digging into conversations happening within AAPI communities post-pandemic and a peek into the world of video and online gaming. 

We then conducted a comprehensive audit of the competitive environment—looking at anti-bullying campaigns and beyond—to identify and analyze successful campaigns outside the space. We audited mental health apps and technology available to youth to understand how current organizations use their brand, messaging, and visualization to effectively communicate these important issues to youth today.

Finally, our Discovery work culminated in thorough qualitative and quantitative research to understand our audience’s experiences, challenges, actions, and pain points. We started with a survey of 200+ youth across California to understand when, where, and how often bullying occurred and what, if any, resources youth turned to for help. 

Then we led qualitative focus groups and in depth interviews with youth, parents, and educators to gain deeper insight into the nuanced perspectives of those impacted by bullying, speaking to over 30 individuals in total.