Young Men's Project

Youth Focus Co-Creation

Stemming the rising tide of youth suicide.

Behavioural change campaigns generally find creative ways of telling people to do things differently: telling men to talk more, or share more. Telling them to be soft, be brave, be patient. Telling them help was available, if only they’d go and get it. We realised an alternative approach to the whole issue was needed. We needed to get to young men before they reached crisis point, and traditional marketing led approaches just weren’t working. Instead of answering the original brief to deliver an above-the-line campaign we did what we often do. We challenged the brief and structured a completely different approach. One that we knew would deliver an outcome that might just make a difference.

Start with the truth, and work back from there.

Our co-creation solution began with the things we knew young men are already good at: things like being authentic voices for causes they feel strongly about; coming together to create practical things; and helping their friends. We also knew that when it comes to their mental health, young men turn to those around them to ask for help, before they contact a health service or even Google it.

The issue was not a lack of services, or even an absence of requests for help. Rather, it was that those requests were not being recognised for what they were, not being heard, and not being acted upon. Young men didn’t know how to talk to their parents, partners or peers, and didn’t know how to listen if someone wanted to talk to them.

The inaugural Young Men’s Project brought together 110 WA-based men aged between 18 and 21 in a six-hour co-creation experience to create better conversation about mental health. The initial results were more than we could have ever expected: 10 teams of young men pitched ideas ranging from music festivals and TV spots and social media apps to a panel of experts.

“Hearing about the Young Men’s Project was one of the highlights for me from the International Association of Youth Mental Health.”

Taylor Linseman, MHA Program Manager at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

A life-saving pitch.

To bring the leading idea to life, we invited 30 guys from the original session back to Meerkats for a day and a half ‘ProAm’, teaming them up with developers, strategists, social experts and creatives to rapidly prototype the ideas created at the first session.

The leading idea – “The Lighthouse Project” – was quickly brought to life by Meerkats. The Lighthouse Project uses tattoos to make it easy to identify young men that are willing to have conversations with those who might need them. It aims to amplify and share the Lighthouse tattoo through music festivals and a peer-led online community.

lighthouse project co-creation
The lighthouse project co-creation event

Simply by participating in this experiential session, we saw the kinds of engagement and conversations we had always hoped to create between young men. In designing their idea young men began to display their willingness to talk and listen to each other about their mental health. By empowering them, supporting them and trusting them to solve this by themselves, their attitude to the whole issue shifted from communications they didn’t want to hear to solutions they were determined to create. Best of all was the determination to take responsibility for the mental health of themselves and their mates, and the knowledge of what each of them could do today to improve it.

Workshop toolkit
Workshop toolkit