Lend Him An Ear is a digital campaign done with Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) to raise awareness about single father mental health and suicide prevention.
Working with a team of five fellow students, Lend Him An Ear was a digital campaign done for CALM to further discourse on men's mental health. My role as project manager and visual designer was to lead the team's creative direction and vision. During these nine months, it was an opportunity to get hands-on with building a digital product and experience, as well as managing a team to meet our targets and goals. Adhering to UX principles taught during my course of studies, I learnt how to understand our target audience, conceptualise ideas, rapid prototyping and run a digital campaign.
Why Single Fathers?
The issue of mental health has been in the spotlight in recent years, with more and more studies carried out about mental health and its effects on society. According to the Lancet Public Health Journal, it was found that single fathers are at a significantly higher risk of mortality due to stressors such as poor lifestyle choices and low health service use. In addition, the National Health Service (NHS) is running a campaign focusing on changing the public perception of the mental health epidemic that is taking a toll on society. The NHS's initiative to treat mental health signals a shift in attitude and perception in the millennial generation about the way we talk about mental health.
UX Challenge #1
Men today are still expected not to be forthcoming with their feelings and emotions. For single fathers, that societal burden can overwhelm them so it was important to create a safe online space that enables them to be vulnerable. To do that, we needed to mobilise our target audience to identify themselves through call-to-action features if they were feeling distressed.
UX Challenge #2
Many young single fathers have little experience in parenting at such an early age. Parenthood guidance has always pandered towards mothers as men are expected to be breadwinners. As a result, men have a hard time relating to existing parenting practices as they find themselves playing both roles at the same time. Thus, the same guidance needed to accommodate and be extended to them.
To engage with single fathers, we needed to find a solution that will convince them that a conversation about them is worth their effort and time. We wanted them to know our story and let them know they are not alone in this. Using unconventional marketing methods such as petitions and Kickstarter campaigns, we could gather support from a wider community where single fathers could gauge the level of support that would encourage them to come forward and not be ashamed of their story. Although this was not implemented due to financial constraints and restrictions, it shaped our thinking process as to how we can gather support from the community, especially for social media. We used the language of design as a way of getting our message across, that being a single father can be a rewarding journey that adds tremendous value to their lives. Leveraging on good UX principles, the experience of visiting the site can have a positive impact on their outlook as we offer hope to this invisible demographic.
The focus of the campaign was on reaching out to single fathers and spreading awareness about the need for societal support. Single fathers For more serious cases, we would direct those users to CALM where expert help can be sought. To keep the information flow simple and easy to understand, the campaign site features an infinite scroll style that lays out most of the information in the homepage, making it easy to access different areas of the site. In order to closely follow the marquee colours of the campaign, the text is kept juxtaposed on solid colours consistent with our brand image, while the stock images typically feature the sun and sea that help reflect a vibrant and positive mood on the site.
Engagement with our target audience was crucial to the success of the campaign, so we incorporated several calls-to-action that focus on mental health. As CALM believes mental health falls on a spectrum, we addressed each level of need depending on the severity of the well-being of the user. If the user needed some guidance on single parenting, the Help and Tips section would help them understand their roles and responsibilities as a father. If users wanted to assess their mental state because they felt distressed, they could take part in the Depression Test to give them an elementary understanding of what they are going through. Users could then decide if they want to seek help, in which the site would act as an intermediary to redirect them to CALM. The petition and Kickstarter campaign gathers support from the wider community and doubles as a marketing tool that helps spread awareness towards the cause. The prototypes were created using Adobe XD and built on Adobe Muse.
We used two platforms, Change.org and Kickstarter, to spread the word. Petitions are a powerful way to support a message by gaining signatures and public support, while Kickstarter as a marketing platform provided the opportunity to gauge serious public support through tangible contributions that directly impact single fathers positively. Kickstarter campaigns also encourage transparency that lets supporters know how funds are used, giving them a peace of mind that funds will be used responsibly. In addition, weekly newsletters were also circulated that help build the story and involve users in the journey to help make the experience more immersive. We also used social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to continuously to extend our reach and promote the campaign.
Through the power of social media, we were able to attract the attention of Tough Talk, a men's mental health awareness site run by a clinical psychologist in New Zealand. We took the opportunity to collaborate with Tough Talk to create some content and to contribute his expertise to the team to better run the campaign. Our research on this topic has led to new awareness of the plight of single fathers and their existence in society. With little information known about this invisible demographic, it brought us great pleasure to shed new light on this topic, and Lend Him An Ear is the first of its kind that will hopefully go a long way to helping single fathers and keeping them alive.