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Time to Change - Raising awareness of men’s mental health with Messenger

by Stephanie Boland

This British campaign to promote mental wellbeing among men reached more than 2.6 million people with its provocative campaign on Messenger.


Caring for the mind

Time to Change is a joint initiative by UK mental-health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, with financial support from the UK government, Comic Relief and the National Lottery. Its focus is on improving male mental health in the UK, where men are often reluctant to discuss their feelings, and suicide is the most common cause of death among males under 45.


Starting conversations about feelings

Time to Change wanted to encourage men to ask a friend how they’re doing, and then ask them again—the idea being that asking twice is more likely to result in an honest answer. The campaign also aimed to equip men with some of the tools to support friends in difficulty.


Mixing humour and mindfulness

Time to Change worked with creative strategy unit Facebook Creative Shop and creative agency Ogilvy & Mather to create a campaign that encouraged men to share their feelings. The key target group for the campaign was the UK age group most likely to die by suicide as a result of mental health problems: adult males aged 25–45.

The campaign got men’s attention with video ads on Facebook and Instagram. A lighthearted introductory video showed a man crushed by a tree, while a friendly squirrel asks him if he is okay. He responds by saying he is “fine”, until questioned a second time.

The key message was that British men often shy away from talking about their true feelings, batting aside questions such as “Are you all right?”, unless it is repeated. The campaign therefore hinged on encouraging men to ask their friends twice.

The video ad prompted people to click through to Messenger, where they could interact with a Messenger experience that shared tips on how to help a male friend. The conversation experience began by asking people, “Who do you need to help?” It then followed up with practical advice and possible courses of action.


Natter that matters

By using Messenger and Facebook, Time to Change was able to convey a simple but powerful message about men’s mental wellbeing: ask a mate twice. As of mid-2020, the ongoing campaign has achieved:

- 4,064 Messenger conversations created

- 26% of people who joined Messenger conversations pledged to help a friend in the real world

- 4,357 reactions recorded on ads that click to Messenger

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"The Ask Twice campaign has successfully encouraged people to “ask twice” as a way of showing genuine interest and support for someone who might be struggling with their mental health. The Messenger experience we developed gave us a way to encourage those who might be nervous, dispel common misconceptions and give small but powerful tips in an efficient and interesting way."

~Jo Loughran Director, Time To Change

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