Do It Day hack NYC uncovers original ideas on addressing mental health screening awareness

Talking about mental health issues is never easy, but three teams of agency and media folk pooled their creative talents to come up with new ways to destigmatize mental health and generate ideas to get people to discuss the subject.

McCann Health in New York City was the setting as employees from the Financial Times, Bizzabo and McCann and others, including Ogilvy, Stein IAS, Refinery29, Mindshare, Syzygy, Capitfy, The Next Web and more, tackled the challenge of getting more people to be aware of the importance of mental health screening through Mental Health America, a 108-year-old nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness.

It was part of The Drum’s annual Do It Day hack, which took place on World Mental Health Day on October 10 with a focus on destigmatizing mental health issues, and the ideas created were inspired and inspiring.

The teams took different tactics to get to their creative ideas for Do It Day, but all came up with inspired concepts – two of which were chosen as ones to move forward to a workable marketing strategy for Mental Health America’s B4Stage4 platform (meaning people need to get tested before they reach ‘stage four’ of their mental health issue).

After a briefing by Paul Gionfriddo, president and chief executive of Mental Health America, and Jeremy Perrott of McCann Health, the three teams and their McCann Health creative mentors got to work, and Gionfriddo was excited to see the developments as the teams ideated.

“I don’t know what to expect, because we haven’t had this kind of talent put their collective heads around this concept since we initiated it, but what I’m hoping for are some ideas that are creative that really help us build the constituency for early identification and intervention around mental health that help demystify it and help people to take action to maintain their mental health and to deal with mental health problems as soon as they come,” said Gionfriddo.

With a target of a teen audience (and their parents and teachers), the teams utilized technology, social and gamification to propel their ideas.

“Once you start diving into mental health, it becomes very big and very expansive. One size doesn’t fit all,” added Gionfriddo.

Perhaps that’s why two ideas from two of the three teams were chosen, and that the choices didn’t really address traditional media.

“The teams went straight to contemporary, modern, social media that engages, embraces and drags people into the world we want to be in, there was nothing that relied on big money…that would drain the creativity,” added Perrott.

The first of two winning concepts was an idea called ‘The Journey to You’ targeted towards kids that would help parents identify mental illness in their children. The project would involve asking kids to create customised ‘avatars’, similar to Bitmoji, that would prompt them to answer a series of questions about themselves, with the hope that the answers would help parents glean information about their child’s mental health. The second asked people to think of their mental health as ‘mental wealth’, with the idea being that if people have a positive connotation with the subject they may be more likely to take screenings and ‘invest’ in their mental wealth. The idea of a YouTube Mental Wealth Empowerment Program was proposed that would feature influencers sharing their own experiences with mental health challenges and screenings.

The combination of the two approaches could reach the most amount of people – teens, parents and teachers – while appealing to the core audience.

The teams now have combined and have until November 16 to bring forth a workable campaign strategy. Perrott sees the short timeline as an advantage.

“When there’s no time and no money, brilliance starts to bubble up pretty quick,” he said.

“If we can lead up to (Do It Day on) the 16th with a clear understanding about how that concept of mental wealth might be developed, it’ll be ready to go with very little cost but a lot of energy behind it,” said Gionfreddo.

With the avatar as an important piece of the puzzle, and only scant weeks to solidify the idea, the team has its work cut out for it, but the reward of a successful campaign is great.

Kyle O'Brien

I am a reporter for The Drum covering a wide array of topics but always trying to tell the best stories possible. I am a former west coaster from California and Portland, Oregon, now living in Pennsylvania — with time spent in NYC each week.

I also play saxophone professionally.

All by Kyle