According to the World Health Organisation, depression will be the world’s biggest health burden, both economically and sociologically by 2020. New Zealand holds the unenviable record of having the second highest rate of depression in the developed world. In response, the National Depression Initiative was created by the Ministry of Health (MOH). But despite generating 93 per cent awareness of the issue, only 37 per cent of people with moderate depression were seeking professional help. The brand’s objectives were ambitious, clear and measurable — to improve information seeking, deliver effective self-help, deliver help cost-effectively, and to deliver medically significant results.
MOH proposed an innovative new approach; to combine advertising, relationship marketing and mental health services into a single, seamless self-help programme. The result, called ‘The journal’, sought to recruit and educate people to help themselves recover from depression, using a very personal mentoring approach. Its automated, online programme was combined with live counselling services to improve cost efficiencies while ensuring people at risk received the highest level of care.
This integrated approach worked spectacularly; between 1 June, 2010 and 31 November, 2011, ‘The journal’ increased the number of people getting help by 312 per cent, lowered the cost of treatment by a factor of six and halved the severity of people’s depression.