Movember ramps up mental health push with digital initiatives

Mens health charity uses annual 8 May day of mateship to build digital connections

Michelle Terry
Michelle Terry

Movember’s digitally-driven MayEight festival has been heralded a success after chalking up more than 33,000 views this year.

The virtual initiative is one of several online efforts the not-for-profit has been making as it works to support men’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 12-hour festival was presented by Gen C and supported by Lululemon, Menulog, Gillette, Politix and Stihl. Running via Facebook Live, it featured sets filmed in the homes of well-known comedians, artists and musicians and also incorporated fitness, yoga and meditation sessions.

The 33,000 views recorded over the festival represented a 7000 per cent increase in site traffic versus the previous year’s event. But importantly, it provided a way for Movember to connect men and support their mental well-being during the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, Movember CEO, Michelle Terry, said.

In an interview with CMO in advance of the event, Terry noted men are generally far less likely to access mental health services than women. What’s more, men more commonly seek support ‘shoulder to shoulder’ – or through connections at a pub, soccer match or gig.

“In this socially isolated situation, those opportunities don’t exist in the same way, so we’re trying to look innovatively at how to make them exist, and in an informative and caring way but that’s also Movember,” she said.

Credit: MOvember


Every year, a big milestone Movember champions is 8 May, a day of ‘mateship’. Alongside the virtual festival, digitally-oriented initiatives this year included ‘Movember Conversations’, an online tool designed to increase people’s confidence to have important conversations with the men in their lives and make informal chats more meaningful. To do this, Movember employed the ‘ALEC’ model – ask, listen, encourage and check-in –invented by RU OK.

“It’s a simple construct but evidence-based and about getting men to open up. It’s a powerful intervention step in terms of men’s mental health,” Terry said.

Movember’s key mission is to drive an everlasting change to the face of men’s health. From its beginnings as a fundraising activity to support men with prostate and testicular cancer, the organisation has expanded to cover three core cause areas: Mental health; suicide prevention; and prostate cancer and testicular cancer. In 15 years, it’s raised $1 billion to support such a quest, and built a base of more than 20 communities globally.

Having joined as CEO in February, Terry said she’s keen to show the 360-degree nature of Movember and how it’s moved well beyond the old perception as a one-month a year fundraising campaign, to a 365-day a week, global men’s health charity leading the world.

“The Movember brand has really created a movement around the world and has huge reach and impact in terms of creating this enormous community of 6 million Mo brothers and sisters who have participated over the years,” she commented.    

As CEO, Terry said a key element of her role is setting the future vision for Movember. This is arguably even more vital as a leader coming in at the onset of a worldwide health crisis like COVID-19.

She noted the organisation was already very clear about its cause areas and what it wants to achieve. COVID-19 hasn’t changed the mission, but what the team is focusing on has inevitably been affected. And as an important moment for Movember to reconnect, the NFP is accelerating a number of programs in the digital mental health area to counterbalance COVID-19.

“We work in the early prevention and intervention space within mental health, and we think now more than ever it’s important we are very active in bringing tools and frameworks to market,” Terry said. “I’m lucky to have a talented here including lots of talented minds in mental health and cancer spaces, which of course we’re not walking away from either. That need hasn’t stopped in a time of COVID-19.”  

As Terry described it, what people are looking for from Movember are the same products and services it provides, but how to better access them in this unprecedented environment.

“As the Movember brand, movement and community, we can deliver very practical tools. Our word internally for this is ‘social scaffolding’ for men’s’ health,” Terry said. “Our tools seek to support men and to help them as well as the help givers around them. There are lots of situation now where this matters.

“If you have a world suffering social isolation, a lot of transition points and shocks for men, then it’s about how can we do that in a remote environment and with more assertiveness in the digital world.”

Fortunately, Movember has a strong community of supporters. Along with programs in flight funded through a strong base, the team in a good position to continue its work through the COVID-19 crisis, Terry added.

You’ll be able to read more about Terry’s views on leadership and how she’s worked to step up from CMO to CEO in the next edition of CMO magazine, out in June.

Check out more of our coverage of how brands are using digital to build connection during COVID-19:

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

 

 

 

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