Just Talk

Fear of stigma and discrimination makes seeking help with mental health difficult, especially for boys who, compared to girls, are less likely to have healthy coping strategies or to seek early support when they are struggling with their mental health.

The Brief

Hertfordshire County Council, two Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Groups and other partner agencies were looking to develop a campaign seeking to tackle mental health stigma in males aged 11-18 in Hertfordshire.

The aim was to:

  • Increase knowledge and take-up of mental health support information and services;

  • Increase knowledge of and take-up of healthy coping strategies; and

  • Increase open conversations on mental health with friends and trusted adults, especially parents and carers.

The Approach

Hitch undertook secondary desk research to conduct a review of publicly available documents and those provided by the client. Insight included:

  • 1 in 10 Children & Young People have a diagnosable mental illness

  • Half of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14

  • Boys are 3 times more likely to take their own lives

  • Fear of stigma & discrimination is a key barrier in accessing mental health support early

Hitch also observed a focus group with the target audience. The outputs from these exercises were used to develop a creative brief and aid in the design of the new logo, campaign assets and toolkit.

The Results

A new logo was developed based on four themes that were seen as being important to those looking to find help with their mental health: strength, trust, conversation, and support. Posters and leaflets were designed for both the target audience and parents and carers of the target audience using the key messages:

  • Talking shows strength

  • We all have mental health

  • Don’t keep it to yourself

  • It’s okay not to be okay

  • Don’t let your friends suffer in silence

Social media was an effective way of sharing the message with this audience. Role models including footballer, Jack Wilshere got behind the campaign tweeting his support.

  • Twitter – 1,430 unique tweets

  • 1,200 swipe-ups for more info on a Snapchat campaign

  • 55,704 reached via Facebook and Instagram (90% of whom were teenage boys)


“Hitch worked collaboratively with us and our target audience, boys at secondary school, to create a powerful campaign that has caught the imagination of boys and professionals across Hertfordshire.”
- Health Improvement Lead - Public Health, Hertfordshire County Council

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