Cause4Opinion

Challenging a Culture: Mental Illness in Males Campaigns for Change

IMG_6349.JPGThis month on 10th October marked the 25th World Mental Health Day; a day dedicated to the education, awareness and activism against the social stigma associated with mental health issues.

Mental illness is common; so why do so many of us find it so hard to talk about? Almost nine out of ten people with mental health issues say that stigma and discrimination have the most negative effect on their lives. Mental health issues affect both men and woman, but not equally. Over three times more men take their own lives, and in 2014 male suicide accounted for 76% of all suicides: the single biggest cause of death in men under 45.1 There is therefore a need to push for changes in policy and practice.

A recent campaign, ‘UOKM8?‘, launched by The LAD Bible in collaboration with CALM, Samaritans, Movember and the Mental Health Foundation, have done just that. “UOKM8?” is a three-month campaign to raise awareness of male mental health issues, with the aim to increase understanding and gather insightful data from The LAD Bible’s vast young audience. In doing so, an open source information bank will be developed for all the relevant stakeholders and the data will be distributed to charities and policy makers.

What makes this campaign different?

  • Working Collaboratively – The charities have joined forces with each other, as well as with a popular website (The LAD Bible) to access their 15 million Facebook followers and increase awareness of suicide. As half of British men aged between 18-24 follow The LAD Bible, the campaign enables them to talk about these issues as well as share experiences. Change cannot happen without wide and active involvement, support, and cooperation. Collaboration is central to ensuring the campaign’s success and influencing change.
  • Ambitious – The LAD Bible’s campaign has the potential to encourage a deeper understanding of male mental health on a larger scale than ever before. There is clear evidence about this crisis, and “UOKM8?” has the means to challenge a culture to help engage men, encourage them to confide in others, seek support, and make a change.
  • Data-Driven – The campaign aims to not only raise awareness of the issue, but to collect valuable data from its audience and create a picture of the issues men face. This data could offer an understanding about risks and suicide prevention, which could be life changing.
  • Driving Conversation – “UOKM8?” will release a number of blogs, stories, and videos about mental health, including documentary series Everday Heroes. In the launch film, British Olympic gymnast Louis Smith talks about his own experience of depression. Campaigns like this are essential in challenging the stigma associated with male mental health issues.

Innovative ideas in mental health campaigns pave the way to changing the culture around mental illness. The impact of this campaign remains to be seen, however the joining of charities and commercial enterprises is powerful in that it creates a positive message for the public and potential supporters, and at the same time enables the cause to reach a much wider and targeted audience.

1 http://www.thecalmzone.net.gridhosted.co.uk/about-calm/what-is-calm/

What are your views about this campaign? Should more charities and commercial enterprises collaborate in this way? We’d love to hear what you think. Leave your comments below, or tweet us at @OfficialCause4 to take part in the discussion.

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