Department of Health

Tass Mousaferiadis


Tass Mousaferiadis is the Mens Program Leader at beyondblue and has 25 years experience working across a range of management and policy areas in government, advising government ministers, and serving on the boards of a number of metropolitan health services. He discusses beyondblues new campaign known as Man Therapy as well as research on men's help seeking behaviors and attitudes.

  • 25 September 2015
  • Duration: 17:31
  • Size: 12.5 MB
  • Speaker 2: Tass Mousaferiadis, Men’s health Program Leader, beyondblue

    Thank you for having me here today - Daniel for inviting me, and the opportunity to speak about some of our work at Beyond Blue around men's help seeking behaviour, and in particular the recent campaign that we've launched called Man Therapy.  Has anybody seen the Man Therapy campaign?  Okay, so if I try to load up some videos to show you, that might work.  How do I do this?  

    Okay, cool. So what I wanted to do is just provide you with a brief overview of the Man Therapy campaign - show you how we're actually going to promote the campaign itself, the objectives and rationale for the campaign, and some of our background research that led towards the campaign, and finally a bit about evaluation.  I'm doing it a bit arse about because it is a really interesting, I think, looking campaign. 

    So I thought I might start with the campaign,  and then talk about how we've arrived at that, but I'm happy to take questions during my presentation.  Okay so Man Therapy revolves around Dr Brian Ironwood.  Dr Brian Ironwood - that's his logo - the entire campaign revolves around a website.  You can just Google Man Therapy.  Now you can Google Man Therapy and it will come up.  It will be the first item that comes up.  No appointments required to see Dr Brian Ironwood. 

    Dr Brian Ironwood has a fabulous set of credentials which I need to look up because I always forget what they stand for.  Now, he has a PhD obviously.  He has a doctorate of manly manliness.  He has a doctorate of every sport known to man, and he has a masters of my own business.  So we've designed Dr Brian Ironwood to be humorous.  The research that we've done has suggested that a great way to engage with men is to use humour, lots of straight talking and keep it slightly irreverent. 

    If I can get these videos up, you'll see what I mean by that.  So Doc Brian - this is the website - Doc Brian basically operates from his rooms.  Anyone can visit his rooms.  One of the things I really like about his rooms is that there's a bookshelf on your right hand side - no, left hand side, which you can't see from here, but if you pull one of the books out, the wall twists and you go straight into his shed.  All men like to have a shed, and he actually does quite a lot of his work from his shed as well.

    There's a blue phone and that takes you straight to the Beyond Blue support service.  So if you click on that it will take you straight to that, and the red flare will take you straight to Lifeline.  So we've pre-negotiated all that with those agencies.  The website essentially operates from the tabs along the top, and there's some along the bottom of course, more detail around getting support services.  So that's Doc Brian. 

    I'm not sure about his cable jumper myself, or the colour scheme, but there you go - it says something about what some men think about what they do wear.  One of the cornerstones of the website is the mind quiz.  What I didn't say earlier is this campaign is based on a US model or campaign that was developed by a team of people in Colorado, also called Man Therapy.  Their doctor - fictional doctor like ours is called Dr Rich Mahogany, and he's designed more for the American audience, whereas we have our own Dr Brian. 

    So the cornerstone of the website is this mind quiz.  The mind quiz is a screening tool.  It's designed to go through.  It's a question/answer, 18 point test.  What it does is it actually gives you a very high level screen on depression and anxiety.   At the end of that, you get an analysis, and you also get a prescription, and the prescription gives you a list of things that you can do to build on your own mental health. 

    There are a truck load of responses and permutations as you can see, because there's no one answer for everybody, and you can print out the prescription and the analysis.  You can email it, you can pass it on, you can place it on your Facebook if you want to.  The other tabs - Man Therapies; the man therapies essentially is a section which outlines the sorts of things that individual men can do to look after their own health.  They're not really designed to be clinical.

    They're not clinical, although at the very end  - Health Professionals - if you click on that tab, what it will do is it will take you straight to the Beyond Blue website, where you can search healthcare providers.  The Discussion Forums also takes you straight back to the Beyond Blue website, where you can hook back into discussion forums with other men. 

    The other tab is the Man Facts.  Again, and I'll talk a bit more about this later, but some of our research shows that the more men understand about depression and anxiety, the more likely they're able to actually do something about it.  So it goes to a lot of detail to actually describe and talk about the signs and symptoms.  Man Stats; our research showed that men love lots of stats.  So there are lots of graphs and pie charts and all that sort of stuff, and FAQs - ah, and the final section of the website is this Tales of Triumph.  

    These are real life people who have actually volunteered to come forward and talk about their own experience with depression and anxiety, and what measures they took to deal with it.  They're fantastic stories.  They're all real characters.  I've met all of them.  Yes, we've edited them back a little bit because Alan for example, who's an ex-policeman - his story went on for 12 minutes.  That's too long to maintain anybody's attention.  So we trimmed that back as much as we possibly could. We got it down to six minutes.

    I've got Ollie on screen which I can show later on. His story is about two and half minutes.  They're all fantastic, and they're worth watching. We sourced these people through a bank of volunteers that we have called Blue Volunteers - Blue Voices at Beyond Blue.  We did an expression of interest.  We had about 30 applications, and we ended up with these six, but they're fabulous stories. 

    Okay, so promoting the campaign; we're essentially using the usual traditional means.  Television ads - we're very lucky for the first time to be able to pay for television advertising, thanks to a substantial DOGHaD grant that we got a few years ago.  Some radio ads.  I highlight Twitter, because we're actually running a fantastic Twitter campaign.  For those of you who have a Twitter account, I encourage you to get onto Twitter.  The address is #mantheraphyaus. 

    Doc Brian is on there at certain times of the day, and he can actually take questions, and he'll provide answers, and he's also engaged with some let's say well known people, but not necessarily celebrities, who've asked him questions, and he's actually provided some video responses back.  So we had a great filming those the other night.  The campaign's been fantastically received so far.  We've had over 42,000 visits to the website alone, within the first week since we launched it. 

    Twitter's just gone completely mad.  We've sort of lost count and I actually don't know how to count it myself, so I've got some of my team working that out.  Of course, Select Print and cinema and the rest of it, but partnerships are important.  I was in Canberra yesterday, and the Defence Force love this so much that they've now decided to shoot it out to every single Defence Force member in the country via their newsletters and personal email. 

    So partnerships are a particularly important way for us to get the message out and to engage with people.  I'm hoping I can show some ads, but I don't know how this is going to work.  Oh here we go.  Right, so if I go here  - no, it's not going to work.  It's a pity.  Right.  It's not that sophisticated.  That's a pity.  Well, that's the first of the ads.  There's essentially four television ads; two 30 second ads, and two 15 second ads. 

    The creative company that helped us design and build Doc Brian were very good at using the situation to help define what the advertisements might look like.  The next ad is - oh that's the 15 second ad, and he basically holds a stop watch here and he says the measly bastards have given me 15 seconds to tell you all about Man Therapy.  The clock goes, and it ticks away, and he basically points you straight to the website. 

    This is one in his shed, and he does crazy shed things, and behaves in a way that I think most people would relate to as sort of somebody in their shed.  That's the 15 second ad.   This is where he gives a plug for his new website.  Also got some radio ads, but I'm not sure that they're going to work either.  We'll just try.  No, that's not working, is it.  That's a pity.  Okay, I've got some print ads.  So these will appear in a variety of a different places.  There'll be posters available, beer coasters - all that sort of stuff. 

    We've negotiated, including Gary's favourite magazine.  Men Health have actually agreed to put up some of our ads.  Some of them are a bit wackier than others.  There's this one.  Most people know what WD-40 is.  These are convenience advertising ads; one's for number ones and the other's for number twos.  They're pretty out there. 

    We'll be monitoring this very carefully to see what the reaction and the response is going to be, and I'll talk a bit about the monitoring and evaluation strategies that we've got in place, but if we're finding that some of these things - some of this toilet humour's a bit too - it doesn't resonate too well, we'll tweak the campaign accordingly, but we've very much designed this to capture the interest of a target group.

    So the objective's very much about help seeking.  Our target population - 18-54, outer urban and rural primarily, unemployed men, men who use alcohol and drugs, fathers.   There are a number of other sub-population groups that we will do other things with.  GBTI men, [cold men], Aboriginal men and homeless men.  We've got separate projects targeting each of those.  I've got five minutes to go.  Right okay, I haven't got long. 

    We've got separate projects targeting each of those population groups, and we're working with relevant agencies - the National GLTBI Health Alliance, Homelessness Australia, Multi-cultural Health - Mental Health and Multi-cultural Australia, I think they're called.  We're doing some work with a variety of Aboriginal groups. 

    We're essentially looking at radio as a platform - community radio, for [cold] and Aboriginal men, and we're looking at story telling techniques, inviting community leaders to come in and talk about their experience.  Do I need to go through the rationale?  One in eight men will experience depression in their lifetime.  One in five will experience anxiety in their life time.  Suicide - every week 33 men kill themselves in Australia.  Most suicides are by men. 

    Somebody tried to tell me that the number of male deaths by suicide equals nearly four Qantas A380 jets. Now, imagine if an A380 jet killed all people - what the response to that would be.  Briefly - I haven't much time obviously now - just touch on some of the research that we've done to build this campaign.  It's freely available on our website.  I encourage you to have a look at it.  This was essentially a fairly intensive in depth work. 

    We conducted focus groups across the country, discussion boards, in depth interviews and so forth, and some of the key messages that came out of that really helped to shape the campaign.  One of the key messages that came out for us was how we frame our communication strategies, and that we actually use language that is very active, very focussed, very concrete, very tangible, has very clear pathways, and avoid using the word help-seeking with men.  So we've tested and we're using language that is much more active. 

    We talk about taking action and taking control.  Interesting point about celebrities; they're useful but they're not always that useful.  Best to have real people talk about their experience.  Where men get their support from and get their information in, this has been reinforced to us through a number of different avenues.  The internet is probably the single most important avenue for information for men. 

    I heard a rugby player yesterday - whatever they're called - the rugby team in Canberra - a chap who came up and talked about his experience with depression, and he said that the way that he dealt with it was to actually get onto the internet and read up and learn as much as he possibly good.  Hence, why our campaign really targets and uses the internet as the primary platform to communicate.  The internet is private.  You can access it any time you want.  It's anonymous, and information is very freely available. 

    Concerns about all the other sources - telephone support, probably only a last resort before crisis point.  Interestingly enough we've had 42,000 visits to our website, but we've had 13 phone calls.  That's not atypical.  It's not atypical.  Probably what might happen is that a number of - the reason we know that is because we're using a dynamic tracking methodology.  We've got a unique telephone number attached to the campaign. So we can actually measure calls that come to the support service from that line. 

    That's not to say that others don't just look up Beyond Blue support service and call the number that they see there.  So there may be more calls and it might be under-represented, but it is an indicator and it shows that again, men preference using the internet as their primary place.  Concerns about health professionals and GPs, and family and friends an important source of information.  Okay, I've got to wind up.  What do I do?  I'll leave my presentation behind, if people want to have a look at it.  Access it through Daniel, and I encourage you to get on to the website and have a look, and maybe I can take questions later on. 

    Facilitator: Thank you Tass, and I absolutely recommend that people get on and have a look, and in particular to have a look at their testimonials. They're really very inspiring - very focussed on people's recovery.  We've now come to our last speaker, Jeff Young, who is going to talk a little bit more about on the ground, what we're doing to help men.  So thank you Jeff.

Reviewed 29 November 2021

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