How DoSomething.Org And Harry’s Are Tackling Mental Health For Young Men

DoSomething.org — one of the largest and most respected organizations exclusively for young people and social change — has partnered up with with leading men’s care brand Harry’s for the “Mental Note: Take Time for Yourself” campaign, featuring New York Times Best-Selling Author & global entrepreneur Connor Franta.

“Mental Note: Take Time for Yourself” ignites the conversation around mental health in an effort to destigmatize the topic and help young men detect issues and ask for help. The campaign also helps encourage young men to build self-care into their daily routine and gain access to crucial resources. 

The campaign has already exceeded goals, with total sign ups to date at 103,347 and total men reached to date at 64,635.

I caught up with Aria Finger, CEO at DoSomething.Org, and Maggie Hureau, Head of Social Impact at Harry’s to find out more.

Afdhel Aziz: Aria, Maggie, welcome. Please tell us a little bit about the problem that DoSomething.Org decided to focus on with this initiative — what did your research uncover?

Aria Finger: Beyond the known social stigma young men face when it comes to discussing mental health openly, research has also found that men have worse rates of mental health symptom recognition, and are less likely to seek mental health resources than their female counterparts. We know this is a top-of-mind issue for young people, especially young men, and wanted to dig deeper into the data to make sure that 1. we were correctly addressing an issue that matters to young people and 2. we were crafting an action that spoke to them. In May of last year, we surveyed our DoSomething members about the topic of mental health and we found the majority of our members wanted a campaign addressing this topic. Here’s what a couple of them had to say:

  • “Men are typically ignored when mental health is talked of. I really like that this campaign aims to bring them to the conversation and make space at the table. Men feel too, and it is important for them as well as others to acknowledge that.”- Aranyo, Male, 16
  • “I appreciate that this potential campaign seeks to give young people, especially young men, a better understanding of how to identify mental health issues and how to properly respond to those in need or seek treatment themselves.” Alexis, Female, 17

The goal of our Mental Note campaign was to ignite the conversation around mental health, specifically men’s mental health, among young people, in an effort to destigmatize the topic and help young men detect issues and ask for help. And we did that by having those friends and peers start the conversation by giving a male in their lives a physical “mental health note” from our campaign (which we’ve since pivoted to a digital note in light of COVID-19). The note encourages them to practice self-care and gain access to crucial mental health resources. 

As COVID-19 progressed and we saw how those related stresses and anxieties were affecting young people emotionally, we opened up the campaign to encourage young people to give a mental health note to all friends and peers in their lives so everyone can have access to the crucial mental health resources they may need. 

Aziz: Amazing. And Maggie, how did Harry’s come up with their social purpose goal of helping 500,000 men? I love the specificity of it.

Maggie Hureau: We really wanted to remain focused on the impact we’d make through our nonprofit partnerships and deciding on a goal that was incredibly ambitious yet doable was key to our approach. We’ve partnered with organizations that have a wide reach in terms of people and men they serve every day. When we shifted our focus towards mental health we wanted to make sure our customers and team could follow along with us on our progress to reach that goal which, as of today, is 250K men and counting! 

Aziz: Awesome. And Maggie, what kind of focus did you decide within men’s mental health? How did you decide to choose your 9 non profit partners?

Hureau: Since mental health is a crisis for many men, we’ve focused primarily on providing access to care and making resources available to groups of men that have expressed significant need or are at particularly high risk. These groups include LGTBTQ+ youth, veterans, and young men, so we’ve partnered with organizations that are deeply rooted in those communities to help them target those in need, making the care they’re looking for more readily available. 

 This desire to serve a range of communities while focusing on those most at risk has informed the work we do with our non-profit partners, A CALL TO MEN, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), Crisis Text Line, DoSomething.org, Headstrong, Stop Soldier Suicide, Futures Without Violence, The Trevor Project and MindWise Innovations

In addition to the $3.6M we’ve committed to our partners to date, our work goes beyond financial backing. We’ve built active and collaborative relationships with each organization and have applied the customer-centric approach we take as a company to our work, helping to more accurately target those in greatest need and to maximize impact. 

Aziz: Very cool. And Aria, how did the partnership with Harry’s come about? 

Finger: We approached Harry’s! For years we had admired Harry’s cause efforts with men’s mental health. In addition to their core grooming and shaving business, Harry’s has a lofty and impressive goal to help 500,000 men gain access to better mental health care by 2021. They have a consistent CSR program (mental health for men!) and have an incredibly strong grasp on the intersectionality of the cause — working with men of all age demographics, men experiencing homelessness, men who are part of the LGBTQ community, veterans, etc.

DoSomething.org speaks to young people and the causes they care about, and our shared desire to do impactful work for young men’s mental health brought us together. We spent the greater part of 2019 working with Maggie on our campaign concept and how to best combine our respective strengths. and a successful partnership grew out of our collaborative spirit and mutual respect for each other’s mission. We were able to create an impactful campaign that reaches young people around an important cause for them, at a time when the message, and access to related resources, is especially needed. 

Aziz: Wonderful. Finally, how have you exceeded your goals so far, and how do you see the program expanding?

Finger: The campaign was originally intended to reach young men and young people who identify as male, and we planned to close on March 31 of this year. However in light of how young people have been impacted emotionally by COVID-19, we made a collective decision with Harry’s to not only extend the campaign to April 15, but also to open up the mental health resources and self-care tips to ALL young people, not just young men or young people who identify as male. To date, over 103,000 young people have signed up for the Mental Note campaign, which is almost double the number of young people we anticipated signing up at the outset.

DoSomething is continuously committed to the cause of mental health for young people. We have a new mental health campaign running now, in partnership with Blue Shield of CA, called New State of Mind. We’re asking young people to share their anti-stress or anti-anxiety tips with us, with a goal of creating a first-of-its-kind crowdsourced mental health guide for young people, by young people and sharing it nationally. We are always listening to what our members need and want, especially now during these times, and responding accordingly with timely campaigns, resources and content so no young person has to go it alone.  

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