Founded in 1992, Men’s Health Network (MHN) was the initiator of a weeklong U.S. awareness event in the week leading up to Father’s Day. As awareness of the event grew, what was once referred to as ‘Men’s Health Week’ soon gave way to ‘Men’s Health Month’ held every June. Here, Ana Fadich, vice president of MHN, gives us some insight into designing and executing multichannel public health campaigns.
“Typically when people think of men’s health, they think of below the belt issues and we’re trying to redefine that idea because there is so much more,” says Fadich. “We encourage men to stand up for their own health, to take the initiative and to build their understanding of the interconnectivity of various conditions – for example, if a man has a heart problem, how that can affect his kidneys or be associated with erectile dysfunction.”
Working with an array of institutions around the world to promote each other’s programs – including the American Cancer Society, Go Red for Women and Mental Health America – MHN also organizes educational talks and free screenings, and provides educational materials on a variety of different conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), gastric health and cardiovascular disease.
Of course, the meteoric rise of social media platforms plays a huge part in the success of today’s awareness initiatives – and, in the case of MHN, it’s no different.
It’s made a huge difference, says Fadich. “Men are less likely to talk about a specific health condition in person and being online gives them a sense of anonymity. Social platforms give men a huge amount of information at their fingertips. In my opinion, any organization that wants to be successful needs a social media presence.”
Certainly, the charity has fully embraced social media, using the #ShowUsYourBlue and #MensHealthMonth hashtags to engage people online and give a sense of community to their efforts during its ‘Wear Blue Day’ initiative. It also utilizes Twitter to host and participate in live chats with anyone that wants to be involved and ask questions.
Alongside adopting social networks such as Twitter and Facebook is the organization’s own online resource covering all aspects of men’s health, from eye conditions to specific male cancers. “Men are more likely to go online than to their doctor in regards to health issues so we provide an online repository for both him and his loved ones,” Fadich notes.
Like all nonprofit organizations, it’s key for MHN to understand how effective its messaging is, using statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to examine prevalence and mortality changes for certain conditions.
In-house, though, it employs a more real-time measurement of its efficacy.
“We give self-assessment quizzes to men that attend our events asking questions to do with their personal health issues, as well as our event’s impact on them personally. They fill those out and keep a copy for themselves to take with them when they next see their healthcare provider.”
“We found that about 67 percent of men say they intend to see their healthcare professional since coming to our event,” Fadich adds.
In terms of online engagement, simple analytics platforms provide the best measurement for the Network, allowing it to measure how many people have been reached and effectively engaged. All results point toward a growing awareness of men’s health issues.
Now into her sixth year at MHN, Fadich has witnessed the company’s impact on men’s health issues firsthand. “It’s gradually getting better. There’s an increase in uptake of people participating in Men’s Health Month which is exciting because it means people are recognizing this as a public health concern and looking at men’s health as a social issue.”