Reducing stigma in men

Stigma Reduction Interventions: Digital Environments (STRIDE)

The Stigma Reduction Interventions: Digital Environments (STRIDE) Initiative was a research program reflecting Beyond Blue's interest in the effectiveness of 'real world' interventions and prioritising research partnerships between the community and academics.

In 2013, Beyond Blue, thanks to donations from the Movember Foundation, committed $3m over three years, to investing in action research partnerships encompassing multiple perspectives – local community, academics, evaluators and digital designers – each contributing to an integrated innovative project.

Following an open, competitive process, six action research partnerships were commissioned in 2014 to answer a key question:

Can digital interventions, implemented at a local population level, prompt change across the knowledge, attitudinal and/or behavioural components of stigma experienced and/or exhibited by men aged 30 to 64 years?

The six commissioned projects were:

In June 2017, Beyond Blue received the results from the six STRIDE projects.

The video below provides a summary of the results.

Watch the evaluation video

Overall, the projects identified that digital platforms have potential to be effective in reducing stigma associated with depression, anxiety and suicide amongst men in their middle years (30 to 64), provided their design and implementation is well suited for the target audience.

Based on the findings of the STRIDE Initiative, the key ingredients for the success of projects aiming to reduce stigma are:

  • Design with an explicit and detailed theory of change, with clearly defined outcome(s)
  • Co-design the product with the target audience, and ensure the product is well-defined
  • Provide purposeful and tailored content, taking into account the mental health literacy of the target audience and the specific social norms and/or internalised stereotypes of concern
  • Deliberately design digital products to leverage current digital behaviours
  • Promote through the most suitable digital and non-digital means, leveraging partnerships and creating enthusiasm
  • Ensure the product is complementary to the non-digital environments and experiences of the target audience

Establish a trusting collaborative partnership with different perspectives.

A digital platform should only be developed after a full understanding of all relevant enablers and barriers to the success of the digital solution has been considered; a digital solution is not always the best solution.

Beyond Blue will continue to advocate that the implementation of stigma reduction projects should be evaluated through a comprehensive framework including measurement of both attitudinal and behaviour change. A more detailed evaluation framework for stigma reduction is needed for Australia, as the mental health literacy of the community continues to increase.

About Contact & Connect

Led by Incolink in partnership with Deakin University School of Health & Social Development and Publicity Works.

Contact+Connect is a stigma reduction program for unemployed commercial building and construction workers. Evidence is clear that for people experiencing unemployment, especially longer than a month, risk factors to experiencing poor mental health are significantly increased. This project aims to reduce self-stigma associated with poor mental health by improving mental health literacy and help seeking behaviour.

The project addresses stigma associated with depression by ‘contacting and connecting’ a hard-to-reach and high risk cohort in the Australian community. Over an 8 week period a weekly SMS is sent to participants in the program. Each message links to digital platforms that support a range of content including infograhics, podcasts and video. These resources follow an education approach aimed at stigma reduction by de-bunking myths about depression, challenging stereotypes, normalizing depression and empowering participants.

Early experiences of the project show that the usability and immediacy of direct messaging is having an impact. Participants are quick to reply and engage with content, particularly if they perceive a direct relevance to their situation. SMS messaging provides a platform that is flexible, fast and efficient.

The evaluation of the project will show the effectiveness in reducing stigma of the educational content and also the value of the particular digital channels involved.

Read the Contact & Connect research report

For more information visit:

Pete & Dale

Led by Victorian AIDS Council in partnership with ACON, UNSW Centre for Social Research in Health, Liquorice, GAMMA NSW and Living Positive Victoria.

A single online framework has been used to create two websites, Pete & Dale, each aimed at reducing the stigma associated with anxiety and/or depression for specific communities of men. is for men living with HIV, and is aimed at men who have sex with other men but are also in heterosexual relationships (commonly known as ‘gay and married men’). Experiences with anxiety and depression are common among these two groups. Consequently, both groups often experience a compound stigma that is difficult to address.

Each website uses the same combination of online components. The Knowledge Base on either site is an area for articles with easy-to-read information and personal stories as well as self-guided learning to address the stigma associated with mental health issues in addition to issues and topics associated with the respective communities of men. Both Pete & Dale also use Forums and Live Chats where users can connect with other likeminded men to engage in peer moderated discussions in real time chat sessions or ongoing discussion boards.

These major components are augmented by a Support section – listing related services and resources for men seeking additional help as well as opt-in notifications feature – where users can elect to receive discreet notifications for when new content is posted or when live chat sessions are available via their preferred method of contact whether it is via Twitter direct message, email or SMS.

This common framework also allows for evaluation of both Pete & Dale, ensuring the men using the sites are effectively dealing with the stigma associated with anxiety and/or depression.

Read the Pete & Dale research report

For more information visit:

About Better Out Than In

Led by AFL Players’ Association in partnership with the AFL Coaches Association, Mates in Construction, La Trobe University and Cummins&Partners.

Better Out Than In is an integrated, online campaign that shift the conversation around men’s mental health from shame, stigma and hiding to openness, acceptance and hope. The project is based on the premise that sharing and listening to real life stories is one of the most powerful ways of reducing self-stigma in communities of men.

Targeting men from three communities – AFL past players, AFL coaches, and construction workers, we aim to reframe the behavioural and attitudinal trends that contribute to silent suffering by challenging personal and community thoughts and actions - geared towards the normalisation of help seeking, sharing and support. An important theme will be friendship and men’s stories of supporting their mates who are experiencing symptoms relating to depression and anxiety.

A series of digital campaigns will be developed to communicate these stories and allow men to share them with others. A user reference group was recruited to enable participatory design methods which were integrated at all stages of intervention planning, development and implementation.

A mixed-methods, before-and-after longitudinal design is being used to evaluate the effectiveness of the digital campaign in reducing stigma for depression, over an 11-month timeline, with the results compared to men in another male-dominated industry – the mining industry.

Read the Better Out Than In research report

For more information visit:

About Tell Your Story

Settlement Services International and Black Dog Institute.

‘Tell Your Story’ is an innovative online program designed to help refugee men overcome the stigma associated with talking about post-traumatic stress. The multilingual program is the first of its kind to target self-stigma in refugees and features video stories of refugee men who have benefited from speaking about their own difficulties. Information, activities and these stories combine to challenge common myths and support men to gain effective support for stress.

Through 2016 the partnership is testing the effectiveness of the ‘Tell Your Story’ online program as part of a randomised control trial (RCT).

Read the Tell Your Story research report

For more information visit:

About The Ripple Effect

Led by Deakin University National Centre for Farmer Health in partnership with SandPIT, Victorian Farmers Federation, AgChatOz, and Western District Health Service.

Men in Australia’s farming community live and work in a unique environment. This increases their risk of suicide and likelihood of having some experience with suicide such as; attempted suicide, bereaved by suicide, cared for someone who attempted suicide, experienced suicidal thoughts or been touched by suicide in another way.

Within Australia’s community of farming, males are known to avoid seeking help – particularly for mental health issues – and demonstrate toughness and self-reliance rather than displaying emotional vulnerability. Self-stigma and perceived-stigma is common and can be extremely debilitating.

The Ripple Effect is designed to reduce stigma associated with a lived experience of suicide by providing a peer-supported environment where farmers aged 30-64 can share their experiences, learn from each other and build knowledge and skills to assist them through their challenges. The intervention is flexible, so men can participate when, where and how it suits them; whether they have access to the latest smart phone or iPad, or have an ageing home computer or even a fax machine. The Ripple Effect is designed by people who know farmers, with the help of farmers for farmers.

Read The Ripple Effect research report

For more information visit:

About Y-Fronts

Led by CGA Consulting in partnership with Indigenist Consulting, Terem Technologies, Sydney University, Led by Design and Mr David McGrath.

Y-Fronts is a peer-to-peer community mobilisation and stigma reduction strategy. The Y-Fronts mobile application (and supporting social media platforms) will be built ‘by men for men’ in the Pilbara-Kimberley region. Y-Fronts is about connecting men in remote areas who work FIFO/DIDO with other men in similar circumstances, and enhancing their conversations about mental wellbeing and experiences with stigma in a male driven, interactive and non-confronting manner.

This co-design approach will lead to functionality, discussions and targeted mental wellbeing messaging more applicable and palatable to the audience. The project seeks to test if the activity-based interactions through the Y-Fronts app will promote ongoing engagement within the virtual community and thereby providing greater opportunities to push mental wellbeing literacy and stigma reduction.

Activity-based interaction and participation is key, as this will keep men engaging. This will be achieved through incentivising participation and network growth (similar to a frequent flyer or customer loyalty program with discounts and other member offers), competitions and providing content and discussions by ‘real men’ on depression and stigma, which are relevant and engaging for the audience. As a safety mechanism, the Y-Fronts app will provide links to additional resources, peer networks and referral pathways for those seeking assistance for themselves,a mate, or a family member.

Read the Y-Fronts research report

For more information visit:


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The Stigma Reduction Interventions: Digital Environments (STRIDE) project was funded with donations from Movember.

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