Why brands can and should use their influence to be a force for good
Rebecca Holman Digital Director, Grazia
At any one time, one in six people of working age will be experiencing mental ill-health. That can include depression, anxiety or issues relating to stress (NHS Digital 2016). With over 28 million people in work in England, this represents nearly 5 million people (ONS 2018). Shocking statistics, I’m sure you’ll agree, but what do brands have to do with mental health? One could argue that brands should remain within a very separate sphere: audiences don’t want to muddy the water between brands they know and love with social change. What use would it do anyway?
I’m here to tell you that brands can and should use their considerable influence and engaged audiences as a force for good.
‘Where’s Your Head At?’ – a campaign led by Natasha Devon MBE, Mental Health First Aid England and Bauer Media. Together we are working for a change in the law to protect mental health in the workplace whilst harnessing the power of Bauer Media’s brand portfolio and influence to be a force for good. This follows previous successful campaigns Bauer brands have carried out including Make Renting Fair and Mind the Gap.
Brands are unique in their position within society as they have a legion of committed and trusting audiences who believe in the values of the brand they follow. They can speak directly to their followers and urge them to get behind something worthwhile.
As part of ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ we carried out extensive research across Bauer audiences including KISS, Grazia, heat, Absolute Radio, Magic, Empire and Closer getting under the skin of their views and experiences on mental health. Our results showed that 90% of the public feel there is a taboo around discussing mental health and only 56% of respondents said that if they had to take time off work due to stress/anxiety then they would tell their boss the truth, with the figure lower for those living in London.
By using this insight responsibly and effectively, Bauer brands have been able to create tailored content for their audiences harnessing their access and influence to create material that would resonate. From Love Islanders repurposing the well-used phrase of this year’s series (and our campaign’s name sake) to open up about trolling with Heat to Magic’s purpose-built podcast on mental health and Grazia’s in-depth interviews with much-loved stars opening up about their mental wellbeing – all to create a positive social impact for wider society.
And an impact we are having: we have collected over 200,000 signatures on our online petition that we delivered to Downing Street in October, and are delivering an open letter to the Prime Minister next week and await the date of a parliamentary debate to see the law changed once and for all.
Businesses, like yours, can take mental health at work seriously by training your people to become mental health first aiders, improving the health and wellness of your teams and further develop workspaces as safe, positive and supportive spaces. Isn’t it time your brand became a force for good?