36618 In the Mind of the Man How Man Therapy Successfully Addresses Mental Health Issues

Joe Conrad, Founder and CEO, Advertising Agency, Cactus, Denver, CO

Background:  Throughout the world, working-age men avoid seeking help for their mental health issues. And, in times of economic and cultural stress, the issue of mental health takes on a much higher profile, although there are still few resources at-hand on this issue. Cactus, in partnership with the Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention and Carson J. Spencer Foundation, launched Man Therapy to help reduce the suicide rate among working-age men in Colorado.

Program background:  Man Therapy, an innovative, game-changing men’s mental health campaign, came to life as part of a comprehensive media strategy, designed and developed by Cactus. By focusing the campaign on those men not yet in crisis, and helping educate them to recognize the signs and physical manifestations of stress, we presented “getting help” as non-threatening and masculine. Combined with a humorous approach to this very serious topic, we gained the audience’s attention to address issues typically avoided. From its creation, Man Therapy was intended to be shared with other states and mental health organizations. Joe Conrad, Cactus CEO, will highlight how this is possible as Man Therapy has now grown to help men across the world, with local market customization and licensing in seven states and Australia. Additionally, Conrad will highlight how the brand is being redeveloped for a 2.0 edition of Man Therapy. With an intense focus on our audience, Cactus conducted an extensive review of existing global, national and local mental health programs aimed squarely at men. We found that the majority of messages focused on men who were already experiencing a crisis. Further research revealed that by the time a man recognized he was in crisis, there were very few perceived options, and even fewer options considered “acceptable” by these men. This key learning helped us develop a very different approach to the problem.

Evaluation Methods and Results:  The Man Therapy campaign has proven highly successful and has garnered a great deal of attention around the world. To date, successes include:

  • 610,000+ unique worldwide website visitors and a six minute average time on site.
  • 85,000+ men have taken the “18-point head inspection” and received suggestions for therapy.
  • More than 60% of surveyed website visitors indicated they would use the information to work on their mental health.
  • 24,700 clicks on the national suicide crisis line
  • National media coverage and 20 national and international awards for excellence.

Conclusions:  Mental health is a topic continually making headlines, and will continue to do so until those who struggle with issues are able to get the support they need before a situation arises. By utilizing a creative, audience-focused approach with an integrated and comprehensive media strategy, health care organizations can begin to address issues which are typically avoided. 

Implications for research and/or practice:  As discussions behind mental health continue to make headlines, initiatives such as Man Therapy can help mental health organizations reach audiences before a crisis occurs. Man Therapy has grown through licensing agreements and this presentation will highlight how Man Therapy can be customized in any community.