collective voice

Thanks for dropping by our blog page. Our team of over 40 full-time experts use our people-shaped approach to #MakeBetterHappen for individuals, communities and organisations. With insight, co-creation and engagement at the core of all that we do, our mission is to help shape a well, confident and self-reliant society. Call us on 0845 5193 423

How can we get men engaging in activities that prevent poor mental health?

September 12, 2017 15:29

Key facts

According to a recent government report, suicide is the biggest killer in men under 50 years old. Promoting mental wellbeing and preventing mental ill health in this population is, therefore, vital.

A public health team in the North of England recently asked ICE to create an insight-led campaign that encourages men aged 30-49 years old to engage in behaviours that are known to have positive impacts on wellbeing and mental health, such as those recommended by the New Economic Foundation’s Five Ways to Wellbeing. This includes: connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give (see here).

Research techniques

ICE conducted insight groups (experientials) and one-to-one vox pop interviews, using techniques like ‘in their shoes’, journey mapping, and ICE clean language to bypass rational thought processes and get to the root causes of behaviour. The insights we gathered not only gave us the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, but also the ‘why’ that helps us to design an experience that truly engages with what is important to the men who will be targeted by this campaign.

Key behavioural insights

  • The word ‘mental’ had negative connotations for men and was associated with illness rather than health. To men, being asked to do something to improve mental health indicated there was a problem that needed to be fixed in the first place.
  • Men who took part in our research believed that being a man means being strong. Admitting to having problems can be like admitting there is a ‘chink in the armour’, which can be seen as being weak. As a result, needing to improve mental health is an idea that not all men will want to engage with, because it goes against what they think it means to be a man.
  • Men were already engaging in many of the activities associated with the Five Ways to Wellbeing and did not respond well to being told to ‘do more’, because it made them feel like there was a perception they were not already doing enough.
  • Men liked imagery that clearly showed that they were the intended target audience of a campaign, but could not always relate to photos of men-like-them because, ultimately, they were not them.

Behaviour change

The insight revealed that focusing a campaign on improving mental health, particularly one that is in a preventative space, risks men not wanting to self-identify that the message is aimed at them - ‘well I don’t have a problem with my mental health, so why would I want to improve it?’. Improving mental health is our desired outcome, but communicating this to men may actually put them off.

To change someone’s behaviour we need to focus on what matters to them, not to us.

Framing activities around valued aspects of the male identity that came out during the groups, such as wanting to protect and look after others, and men’s desire to achieve (the ‘why’) is more likely to drive behaviour than raising awareness that they are important for mental health.

Furthermore, to overcome the dislike of being told to do more of an activity, ICE will frame messages as questions, which encourages men to consider how the campaign message applies to their lives and experiences - without making them feel judged. Using questions is especially effective because they work with our brain’s natural use of attentional functions and can be used to subconsciously prime behaviours.

Neuroscience fact– The power of the unconscious mind: Many of the decisions we make are not rational and are made without us consciously thinking about them. The unconscious mind can be primed to nudge individuals to engage in desired behaviours – with the individual themselves making the choice to change behaviour.

Solution

Based on the findings of this study, our in-house creative team at ICE is currently developing a campaign that will use the ‘why’ that drives behaviour to help our client improve mental health outcomes in their area. The concepts being tested also use themes that are generationally relevant to men aged 30-49 years old to help them to identify as the target audience and to start conversations.

These are only a few of our findings from this study. To find out how ICE can help you find out the ‘why’ that drives your citizens’ behaviours and how to encourage citizens to engage in the Five Ways to Wellbeing, please contact Dr Emma Mackley on 0151 647 4700 or at emma.mackley@icecreates.com.

Changing transport behaviours

September 9, 2016 14:08

The problem: In the UK each year, 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution. Local authorities are now expected to encourage active travel (such as walking, cycling and public transport) and a shift away from using cars for short journeys.

ICE recently partnered with a council who wanted to reduce air pollution within their locality by promoting active travel amongst people who use their cars for short journeys, such as for the school run. In particular, the local authority was interested in understanding why people chose to use their cars for short school runs so that they could create a campaign which would encourage them to change.

What did we do? ICE conducted insight groups with parents and grandparents who use their car for the school run, to explore why they use the car currently and to help the local authority to understand what will make 'people like them' change.

Why do people use cars for the school run? Using the car to take kids to school was perceived to be easier and more convenient than other transport options. Getting kids to school on time in the mornings is stressful and driving was seen as a way to maintain control over the situation - with kids happier to take the car, less likely to misbehave and more likely to be on time for school.

“It’s to make sure you get there on time, because 9 times out of 10 you’re either late getting up or the kids won’t eat their breakfast so it’s one mad rush in the morning.”

“I feel good that I’m dropping her off to school…at least I know she gets there.”

Other methods of transport were generally perceived negatively as being not safe, not as convenient and more expensive than driving. Together, this contributed to a perception that driving was the only option that they had.

Yet…

When asked to describe their morning school run, parents were overwhelmingly negative, describing the morning school run as being: “hectic”, a “nightmare”, a “rush”, “chaos”, “crazy” and “stressful”.

For one parent, the school run was only a 5 minute journey, yet it took them 10-15 minutes to park. This inconvenience and wasted time was, however, discounted when compared to the perceived convenience of taking the car.

A clear disconnect emerged between parents’ perception of using the car for the school run and their lived experience of doing so.

This disconnect needs to be addressed to help parents to see that other methods of travel are less stressful than the realities of using the car. Routine behaviours, such as mode of daily travel, are deeply embedded in our lives. People will, therefore, tend not to weigh up the positives and negatives before making a journey and so may assume the car is more convenient, when in reality that might not be the case.

What would we recommend based on this insight? From the insight we gained, ICE would recommend a campaign which aims to get parents to ‘leave the car at home’, with a focus on kids getting healthy and physically active. Although the overall aim would be to reduce levels of air pollution, this was not a salient issue with the target audience and so messaging around air pollution may not change their behaviour, whereas parents had been influenced by messaging about health and physical activity of their children in the past.

Any campaign messaging should address the disconnect between perceived and actual experience of taking the car. Importantly, by taking part in the campaign, parents will begin to see the benefits of other modes of transport for themselves.

Our insights told us that kids can influence their parents' behaviour, so a campaign which uses ‘pester power’ (kids pestering their parents) could be effective. Competition, rewards and the idea of a challenge could be a good way to engage both kids and their parents.

The insights told us that schools would be a good messenger for the campaign, because it would make the campaign seem official and schools could communicate both with kids and their parents.

Finally, the insights suggested that a campaign which focuses on people making a small change, such as using the car for the school run in the morning but not the evening, could help to make other transport behaviours normal and routine.

For more information, contact Dr Emma Mackley on 0151 647 4700 or at emma.mackley@icecreates.com

Changing customer behaviours to protect your income

August 9, 2016 15:37

 Are your customers’ behaviours threatening your income?

We know that you feel a great responsibility to your customers, and helping them to manage their finances is one of your priorities. Money management can be particularly challenging for your customers on low-level fixed incomes. If they are struggling to make ends meet, they can be at risk of falling into rental arrears, which has a detrimental effect on your income stream and increases your costs by having to chase payments.

We can help

Our social marketing and behaviour change specialists have worked extensively with housing customers across the country to create a simple programme to improve your customers' financial position.

It is called GET MON£YSMART and it received the top award for Behaviour Change Innovation at the annual Nudge Awards.  

It is a structured, multi-channel social marketing programme designed to engage, educate and empower your customers to take control of their finances by making small, manageable, incremental changes to their lifestyle behaviours.

This effective and engaging programme will protect your income by supporting your customers to reduce their spending on non-essential items and to pay their rent on time.

You can take a look at the case study and find out more about the programme here.

The marketing resources can be easily tailored to fit with your corporate brand and can be supplied alongside a communications and engagement plan that can be shaped to meet your specification and mobilised quickly.

To find out more, contact Paul Williams on 0151 647 4700 or at paul.williams@icecreates.com

NHS Blood and Transplant - citizen-centred strategy in action

July 28, 2016 16:30

At ICE, we were delighted to be recognised for our citizen-centred work with NHS Blood and Transplant recently when we won the Best Local Community Initiative of the Year Award at the Public Sector Communications Awards 2016.

Read our case study to find out how we used Insights, Co-creation and Engagement to change perceptions about organ donation with local African Caribbean communities here:

NHS Blood and Transplant - Case Study

To find out more about how you can make citizen-centred strategy a reality, call Marie Broeders now on 0151 647 4700 or email marie.broeders@icecreates.com

Alcohol - using behavioural insights to change behaviour

July 18, 2016 10:42

Research question: How can local authorities reduce alcohol consumption and increase the number of alcohol free days for 18-25 year old females?

ICE recently partnered with a council that has high chronic liver disease mortality rates for females, as well as an increased proportion of young people who drink alcohol. Continuing this trend will lead to increased mortality for females in the borough. The local authority also wanted to reduce serious alcohol related consequences such as hospitalisations, anti-social behaviour and sexual assault.

Research techniques: ICE conducted insight groups, one-to-one interviews and ethnographic daily diary exercises. The use of clean language and projective techniques allowed our researchers to tap into the attitudes, values, beliefs and emotions that drive young women's drinking behaviours and decision making.

Key behavioural insights: Owing largely to a national public awareness campaign ('Know your limits', Home Office, 2006), 18-25 year old women define responsible drinking as drinking to their own perceived limit. They use this limit as the upper bounds of what is responsible drinking and they define “too much” alcohol as drinking beyond this limit.

I think responsible drinking is something like knowing your limits.”

Whilst this may sound sensible, when ICE researchers explored this further and asked the young women to describe how they knew they had drunk too much alcohol, they described a physical and emotional state that suggests they were highly intoxicated and vulnerable (unable to speak, falling over and feeling sick/vomiting), which would likely increase the risk of experiencing serious negative consequences such as hospitalisation and sexual assault.

So it’s over the edge and you start to lose kind of most senses, and you don’t really know what you’re doing.

Importantly, the young women did know a number of drink protective behavioural strategies (drink water, space drinks, swap a single for a double, don’t mix drinks). They know the desired behaviour change, however, they apply it reactively and too late.

How is ICE using these behavioural insights to change behaviour? 

A key finding of this study was that the young women used a series of visual cues to self-identify if they had drunk too much.

You start losing, like, your eyesight and stuff. Stuff goes blurry.”

ICE has designed a series of behavioural nudges (e.g. blurred images in toilet mirrors) that will be employed in situ at pubs and clubs to use young women’s unconscious thoughts and nudge them to self-identify that they may be approaching their limit, thus enabling them to apply drink protective behavioural strategies more proactively.

Because we rarely use rational decision making processes when deciding when and how much to drink (we do it because it’s fun, relaxing and social), strategies that appeal to such rational decision making (including those that focus on the serious negative consequences of drinking) are unlikely to have a significant impact on reducing how much and how frequently young women drink alcohol.

Working with young women’s unconscious thoughts and feelings and nudging them towards self-identifying that they have reached their limit provides a novel way to change this maladaptive behaviour and helps to reduce incidences of serious negative consequences of drinking alcohol.

For more information, contact Dr Adam Moore on 0845 5193 423 or at adam.moore@icecreates.com

Carers - one of society's greatest hidden assets

June 8, 2016 09:46

Social isolation is defined as a complete or near-complete lack of contact with people and society.

Owing to its profound negative impact on health and wellbeing, reducing social isolation is a key priority for many local authorities.

We recently explored the experiences of carers to:

  • Understand the causes of social isolation for carers
  • Identify what carers need to prevent or manage social isolation
  • Explore the wider impacts of caring responsibilities.

Read more:

Insight Research - Social Isolation in Carers Case Study