Client Success Story
SEWB TAKE A STEP
Raising Awareness, Reducing Stigma: Addressing Mental Health in First Nations Communities
Statistically, First Nations young people are among the most vulnerable population groups in Australia. Research shows First Nations young people experience higher levels of psychological distress and are almost three times more likely than other young people to die by suicide.
In 2022, the suicide rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were becoming disturbingly high. Therefore, headspace created ‘Take A Step 2022’, a campaign aimed at bringing mental health and well-being to the forefront of First Nations young people’s minds - equipping them with skills to recognise mental ill-health symptoms.
As every mob has their own cultural nuances, targeting or marketing to First Nations people cannot have a ‘one size fits all’ approach. So, to destigmatise mental health effectively, media and creative needed to be adaptive to reflect the varied experiences of different communities. As well as this, with limitations in media targeting, directly reaching First Nations and people demographically seemed near impossible.
Mental health can be triggered by several aspects but for First Nations young people, there are additional, dramatic factors impacting mental well-being. This includes factors such as racism, intergenerational trauma and/or alcohol and drug abuse.
Within First Nations communities, the impact of these issues is often suppressed, making mental health issues difficult to recognise or address.
It was vital that ‘Take A Step 2022’ was inspired and informed by First Nations people. Therefore, the development of the campaign was guided by headspace’s Wominjeka Youth Reference group – which cemented the strategic direction of the campaign.
The Wominjeka Youth Reference group emphasised the importance of storytelling (yarning) in First Nations culture – using it as an educational tool, ensuring the narrative of mental health challenges was accessible through real, relatable stories in ‘every day’ First Nations contexts.
First Nations Young People taking part in the Wominjeka Youth Reference group expressed feeling caught between ‘two worlds’ – that of an Indigenous, and Western one. For our message to land with impact, it needed to be sensitive to the nuances of First Nation cultures and connect meaningfully across both ‘worlds’.
While considering regional distinctions in language between differing communities, the campaign used First Nations young people's mental health statistics alongside headspace’s national network to identify a grid of high-priority regions for targeting.
Where slightly more granular targeting was available, we developed over 2,000 First Nations digital footprints to identify ‘follow’ patterns. This allowed us to bridge the gaps between the ‘two worlds’. How? We prioritised locations into 5 tiers and upweighted investment depending on necessity for assistance in the community and proximity to headspace centres.
Representation and de-stigmatisation were key factors when considering media and channel investment. Media formats were selected that would make mental health visible, loud, and proud, and would assist in normalising the conversation and provide accessibility. The key media channels utilised included television, radio, social media, YouTube, and Spotify.
The ‘Take a Step’ campaign had an extremely positive impact on First Nations young people. From an awareness perspective, 40% of First Nations youth surveyed recall the campaign. Regarding behavioural change, 85% of First Nations youth act in response to the campaign. This included: 40% listened to stories about their mob 40% spent more time outdoors 22% spoke to someone on eheadspace 15% visited a headspace centre or created a headspace account