David Elliott, Director Social Research
Robert McPhedran, Senior Project Manager
Ipsos Social Research Institute
Beyond Blue through the Australian Government’s Taking Action to Tackle Suicide initiative
Project completion year
Ipsos SRI were contracted to deliver an impact evaluation for the Beyond Blue Beyond Barriers Strategy. The evaluation will address the extent to which each of the Strategy’s following core objectives was achieved:
- an increase in the proportion of men aged 18 or older who understand that depression and anxiety are serious health problems;
- an increase in the proportion of men aged 18 or older who understand the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety;
- a decrease in the proportion of men aged 18 or older who hold the perception that asking for help is a weakness;
- a decrease in the proportion of men aged 18 or older who hold stigmatising attitudes and beliefs; and
- an increase in the proportion of men aged 18 or older (who have experienced symptoms) who have taken action through a range of lifestyle change and treatment options.
The evaluation will also explore the quantitative reach the Beyond Barriers Strategy has achieved among men aged 18 or older (and by key target populations, where sample size allows) and how that reach compares to comparable campaigns internationally.
While the key focus of the evaluation is to assess whether or not the intended outcomes were achieved, we understand that Beyond Blue would also like to understand why this was the case, to inform future interventions. It will therefore be important to include elements of process evaluation.
With this in mind, Ipsos SRI has extrapolated upon the objectives listed above, to suggest a number of additional objectives, as follows:
- gauge the efficacy of the campaign in the different target populations (where sample size allows);
- identify whether certain campaign materials are more effective than others;
- gauge whether certain media are of more effective than others in the dissemination of materials;
- identify any unintended outcomes; and
- inform future interventions.
Beyond Barriers, when considered as a whole, represents a successful strategy.
The core Man Therapy campaign had a reach of 43% among men aged 18+ (equating to approximately 3,420,000 Australian men aged 18+) and 41% among men aged 30-54 (equating to approximately 1,506,000 Australian men aged 30-54). Both these figures are substantially higher than the anticipated 25%-30% reach.
Further, the website received high visitation numbers (512,554 over the campaign materials) indicating that the campaign advertising - particularly the TV advertisements - was successful in driving website visitation.
Additionally, exposure to the campaign advertisements appeared to result in changes to knowledge, attitudes and behaviour:
- Increased understanding of anxiety and depression as medical conditions that require treatment for a full recovery.
- Increased understanding of the serious impact of both depression and anxiety.
- Increased belief they are well-informed about depression and anxiety.
- Increased knowledge of number of symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Increased perception that they have the ability to overcome or manage depression/anxiety.
- Decreased perception that employers would be reluctant to employ a man experiencing depression.
- Increased perception that men experiencing depression are likely to fit into social situations.
- Increased perception of positive treatment outcomes such as visiting a GP; speaking to family or mates; getting more physical exercise; reducing or avoiding drugs; increasing participation in recreational hobbies; calling a telephone helpline; and participating in an online self-help forum.
- Increased comfort in talking to a mate with depression/anxiety.
- Increased likelihood of talking to someone about depression/anxiety.
- Increased likelihood or taking any positive action and making lifestyle changes.
Special initiatives developed for specific demographics – Aboriginal men, gay men, and homelessness support workers – have also been successful, particularly due to participatory design by the target audiences.