In recent years the topic of men’s mental health has received greater attention. “Heads Up Guys”, “Buddy Up”, “Be in Your Mate’s Corner”; are just a few names of the campaigns coming from several organizations that have been raising awareness about men’s mental health
One of the most effective ways that these organizations have been able to make a difference within the current landscape of men’s mental health has been by using knowledge translation (KT) methods on social media platforms.
“How?” You may ask.
At the organizational level, social media can be an excellent tool to strategically conduct knowledge mobilization in numerous ways. Firstly, as a platform social media provides you with the opportunity to offer your audience “short easily consumed summaries” and at the same time, social media “easily links your audience to your primary documents” (Alberta Health Services). Second, being both free and easy to access, social media also offers your organization the flexibility in choosing how and when you want to share information with your audience (Alberta Health Services). Finally, as a “two-way communication platform”, social media has the added benefit of helping you to expand your network and audience through “a rapid dissemination and exchange of information” (Alberta Health Services).
Find out how “Heads Up Guys”, “Buddy Up”, and “Be in Your Mate’s Corner” used social media to strategically engage their audience with KT.
Background and Knowledge:A program launched by the University of British Columbia, HeadsUpGuys (www.Headsupguys.org)is a resource for supporting men in their fight against depression by providing tips, tools, information about professional services, and stories of success.”
According to HeadsUpGuys, depression is a thief that affects millions of men every year. Through the use of personal storytelling, HeadsUpGuys inspires men, “to reach out, build supports, and fight depression. Our honest and straight-up approach to talking about depression has resonated with men and their supporters around the world.”
KT Methods: With the assistance of their team of researchers, clinicians, and mental health advocates, HeadsUpGuys chose the KT methods of an e-brochure, blogs (“Your Stories” Campaign), social media posts, and PSA Videos (“Raising Awareness of Men’s Mental Health”, “Surviving Depression and Suicide: Josh’s Story”, “HeadsUpGuys Impact Video”, and “HeadsUpGuys PSA” to inform the public about their cause and offer their audience various ways to engage with KT.
Effectiveness: HeadsUpGuys has made a large impact across the world through various media forums. With a Facebook following of over 50,000 people, their work has been featured in over 80 media outlets including; CBC News, HuffPost, Buzzfeed, The Telegraph, CTV News, Global News, The Vancouver Sun, MSN News, Yahoo! News, Men’s Health Magazine, and DatingNews.com. Their website has received over 1,600,000 visitors, 200,000 self-check questionnaires have been completed, and they have reached 20 million people with their resources (https://headsupguys.org/our-impact/). HeadsUpGuys’ campaigns have been recognized and shared by many of their peers including: Bell Let’s Talk, To Write Love on Her Arms, Bring Change 2 Mind, The Canadian Mental Health Association, The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, The Jed Foundation, The International Association for Suicide Prevention etc.
For example, the “Your Stories” campaign impact has reached widescale global impact. In the campaign, HeadsUpGuys released 22 recovery stories from men who overcame depression. Their engagement garnered “40,000 website visits, over 60,000 engagements on social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, newsletters, and media features), and were able to reach over 1,500,00 people of which over 75% of those reached were men. Participation occurred throughout multiple countries including: Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Philippines, Pakistan, India, Australia, Nigeria, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, South Africa and New Zealand. The campaign also received a lot of social media engagement; featured by The Mighty with 1.5k shares, BC CTV, and the Vancouver Sun.” (https://headsupguys.org/depression-stories-campaign-impact/)
For more information:To find out more, visit their website here: https://headsupguys.org/about-us/
Background and Knowledge: Buddy Up is a suicide prevention campaign “by men for men”, created by the Centre for Suicide Prevention. The campaign seeks to encourage men to have real conversations about mental health with their male friends, and to support their friends who are struggling with thoughts of suicide. Buddy Up has found that, “Middle-aged men (40-60) die by suicide more than anyone else. Men are often socialized not to talk about their emotions, and therefore, men as a group may mask their stress and deal with emotional pain through harmful behaviours and actions, and sometimes suicide, instead of seeking help.”
KT Methods: After effectively engaging key stakeholders and collecting information from an advisory committee and input from a focus group, the Centre for Suicide Prevention created an infographic (https://bit.ly/32jVRgB) and toolkit (“A Suicide Prevention Toolkit: Men and Suicide”: https://bit.ly/2QiIEiz) to equip men with the necessary tools to offer peer support to their friends (“buddies”). Their toolkit includes statistics about male suicide numbers, warning signs, how to talk to someone you are worried about, risk and prevention, what men can do, relevant programs, recommended reading and relevant references.
Effectiveness: Buddy Up has been highly successful in inspiring their audience to engage in peer support concerning men’s mental health. From September 1st-30th, 2020, Buddy Up will be holding a virtual contest to promote their campaign. Buddy Up will be hosting two Zoom webinars for men on September 10th and September 17th, 2020. By encouraging men to share information on social media, email, colleague referrals, and by reaching out to a buddy, Buddy Up will measure the impact of their campaign through the collection of participants’ “Buddy Up Activity Contest Activities” tally form to determine how many men engaged with their material on suicide prevention (https://www.suicideinfo.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Buddy-Up-Contest-Details-Setting.pdf).
For more information:
To find out more, visit their website here: (https://bit.ly/2CSPVSX)
Be in Your Mate’s Corner
Background and Knowledge: In 2017, Time to Change (https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/) launched a 5-year peer support campaign titled “Be in Your Mate’s Corner”, to encourage men to be more open and supportive of their friend’s mental health and wellness. In their words, “Time to Change is now urging men to recognise how their attitudes and behaviours can influence others’ experiences of mental health problems – and that being in a friend’s corner can make all the difference. The campaign is relevant to everyone – men, women and young people – and shows straightforward ways that anyone can be there for someone.”
KT Methods: Time to Change set out to conduct research on attitudes towards men’s mental health by holding 18 focus groups across England over a one-year timeframe. They found that despite significant social and cultural changes towards the subject of mental health in England, there continues to be a large gap between the attitudes shared between men and women about mental health. Through the release of a high impact film (“Time to Change: Be in Your Mate’s Corner” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3l8LpDitZvY), and launch of a social media campaign titled “Be in Your Mate’s Corner”, Time to Change has begun to inspire people to action through social media graphics, tweets, and posts with relevant information about the campaign.
Effectiveness: Be in Your Mate’s Corner has had a widespread impact across the Global North. Their high impact film “Time to Change: Be in Your Mate’s Corner” has been viewed over 18,000 times. The following testimonial is about the campaigns’ impact:
“As part of my ongoing recovery with mental health problems, being involved with Time to Change has been a hugely influential tool in sharing my story, meeting other people with similar experiences, and channelling something negative into a positive. In my opinion, the Time to Change movement epitomises the epitomises the idea of working together to achieve a greater goal”- Adam
Time to Change’s large social media audience of over 284,000 followers on Twitter alone, has helped the organization to effectively engage their audience with KT on social media. As a result of their campaign, Time to Change received an increase of 50% on their website. They have been able to reach 18.5 million people to date and have evidence that 2.7 million “people ‘stepped in’ as a mate as a result of the campaign” (https://sites.wpp.com/sustainabilityreports/2017/our-client-work/promoting-health-safety-and-wellbeing/be-in-your-mates-corner/).
For more information:
To find out more, visit their website here: https://bit.ly/2CSPVSX
In the end, the KT methods used by each of these organizations and their respective campaigns have led to widespread change–but the work is far from over. If you are reading this blog piece, you have a chance to put your newfound knowledge to practice! Learn more about the challenges surrounding men’s mental health and do your part to spread the information and check up on your bros when they appear to be struggling with mental health problems.
If you are a Person With Lived Experience or consider yourself an at-risk man, ally, caregiver, or peer supporter, find a list of relevant mental health resources below:
- CMHA, Men’s Mental Health https://toronto.cmha.ca/mens-mental-health/
- Man Therapy, https://mantherapy.org/
- Men Get Depression, http://www.mengetdepression.com/resources/
- Movember, Men’s Mental Health & Suicide Prevention https://ca.movember.com/mens-health/mental-health
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Men and Depression https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/men-and-mental-health/men-and-depression/index.shtml
Alberta Health Services. (2018). “Social media for knowledge translation”, https://albertahealthservices.ca/assets/info/res/mhr/if-res-mhr-kt-social-media.pdf
Elizabeth Peprah is a current PhD Student in Human and Social Services with a concentration in Community Intervention and Leadership at Walden University. She is a graduate of a master’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies at Carleton University where she researched the connection between mental health and sexual assault trauma. Elizabeth further discovered the importance of adequate mental health services for victimized women while working with women in a bail residency program with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa. She blogs on gender-based violence at serwaaspeaks.com and has been a Knowledge Broker with the MHCC since January 2020.