Brains can have a mind of their own

Beyond Blue's 2015 youth campaign, Brains can have a mind of their own, empowered teenagers to take action if they are experiencing depression or anxiety, and aims to reduce suicide, which remains the biggest killer of young people in Australia.

Research shows that four out of five Australian teenagers think people their age may not seek support for depression or anxiety because they’re afraid of what others will think of them.1

The survey of 600 teenagers aged 13 to 17, commissioned by Beyond Blue, also found that two out of five respondents thought their peers might not seek support because they believe nothing could help them.

Brains can have a mind of their own uses quirky animated ads that feature an annoying ‘brain’ character that causes young people to experience various symptoms of depression and anxiety. This campaigns aim was to show teenagers that experiencing depression or anxiety doesn’t mean they are weak or weird, it simply means that their mind is giving them a hard time. Young people were encouraged to learn more at Beyond Blue’s website for 12-18 year olds, that contained information and resources on depression, anxiety, other life issues and where to go for support. Before it was launched, the campaign creative was tested with a large group of 13-17 year olds who responded positively.

Who is this campaign targeting? 

This campaign is targeting young people, aged 13-18, and particularly those who are experiencing depression or anxiety for the first time and have not yet sought professional help. This focus on younger people is important as research suggests that 50 per cent of mental health conditions emerge by age 14, so it’s vital to intervene as early as possible.2

What is the idea behind using a ‘brain’ character? 

The brain character has been used to illustrate the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of young people with depression or anxiety, which need to be recognised in order to identify these conditions and to seek support. 

By making the brain character an external representation of depression and anxiety, separate to the young people shown in the ads, Beyond Blue is trying to show young people that they shouldn’t feel personally responsible for experiencing these conditions, because their brain ‘can have a mind of its own’. 

The sense of personal responsibility and shame that some young people feel about their depression or anxiety can prevent them from seeking support, so the aim is to break down this stigma to make it easier for young people to get the help they need. 

Beyond Blue has used a humorous approach by making the brain annoying and mischievous, which marketing research suggests is an effective way to engage young people (Thornley and March, 2010 - What Works in Social Marketing to Young People).


1. For a full list of references for the statistics on this page, and any others across the website, please visit the references page and search through the relevant category.

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