Sunday, September 9, 2012


Colorado has the 6th highest suicide rate in the nation.  Men between the ages of 25 and 54 account for 44% of the suicide deaths in the state, and in 2010 had the highest suicide rate among all age and gender groups. The high number of suicide deaths in this group, coupled with the limited prevention and intervention efforts, targeting this difficult to reach demographic, confirmed the urgent need to develop suicide prevention strategies to better serve this population. In 2006 the partnership between Cactus, The Office of Suicide Prevention (OSP) and the Carson J Spencer Foundation began and we made a commitment to address this growing public health crisis.  In 2011 the partnership received funding from the Anschutz Foundation to further these efforts and on July 9th 2012 launched the Man Therapy™ campaign with an article in the New York Times.

Dozens of Denver Metro Billboards with Man Therapy messages
The purpose of the Man Therapy™ campaign is to provide men with a place to learn more about men’s mental health, examine their own situation and consider a wide array of actions that will put them on the path to treatment and recovery. The universal message is that all men should be aware of their mental health status and treat it like they would any other ailment and strive to get better.


From the outset, Man Therapy was created to be shared with other states and mental health organizations around the U.S. that are working to prevent suicides in their communities.  It has been created so it can very easily be implemented in communities throughout the country.

Man Therapy reshapes the conversation, using humor to cut through stigma and tackle issues like depression, divorce and suicidal thoughts head on, the way a man would do it. The campaign features a mental health hero, the good Dr. Rich Mahogany. He’s a man’s man who is dedicated to cutting through the denial with a fresh approach using his rapier wit, odd sense of humor, no BS approach and practical advice for men. Dr. Rich Mahogany is dedicated to helping men take charge of their own mental health.

Posters and Bus Station Displays

 The centerpiece of the campaign is the website, where men and their loved ones will find they have a virtual appointment with Dr. Mahogany.  Visitors can navigate through Dr. Mahogany’s office where they can find useful information about men’s mental health with Gentlemental Health™. Men can also take an 18-question quiz to evaluate their own mental health status.  Within the site you are able to access resources and explore a wide range of choices from do-it-yourself tips to professional therapist referrals. Additional resources include links to local support groups as well as a national suicide crisis line that is ever present on the site.


In addition to the engaging experience viewers can find at, the integrated communications campaign includes a 30-second TV PSA, three viral videos, social media promotions, outdoor boards and outreach materials including posters, coasters and Dr. Mahogany’s business card. 

Results and Evaluation

Impressive results in just the first six weeks. After generating 5,000 hits in the first day, the Web site has seen an average of 1,000 unique visitors per day and has had 40,000 total visitors averaging 7 minutes on the site.  A total of 8,000 people have taken the quiz and been given advice and recommendations to consider.  A thorough evaluation is being conducted currently to obtain more detailed feedback and analysis of the effectiveness of the campaign and Web site experience. The evaluation includes a one and three-month follow-up component designed to measure whether the website contributed to positive behavior change among men who have visited the site.  A survey on the website also captures users’ immediate impressions.

  • 73% were satisfied with the quality of the Gentlemental Health™, video testimonials, and Man Therapies
  • 86% said the Web site was useful to them
  • 89% would recommend the Web site to a friend
The survey also revealed that the 34% of those who came to the website were looking for resources for themselves, and 14% were looking to help a friend or family member. The model user is a man aged 25-34. Some of the qualitative responses include:

  • I have never regarded myself as a stereotypical macho male, but was struck by (i) how many of the macho-male myths I subscribed to and (ii) how fast they crumble when they are examined.
  • I am a mental health clinician and I love the idea and the concept of using humor to get men the help they need. This is such an important area.
  • Awesome way to reduce "stigma" for men seeking mental health assistance! This is what we need instead of the same old SAMHSA, DCOE, NIMH, etc. sites. This makes men want to use it as it delivers info in an easy to understand format! Love it!
  • Extremely engaging use of humor, not only via the actor and faux therapist, but throughout. As a therapist and a man, I was pleased to see such a resource. Well done! Hopefully this will become the model for preventative campaigns within public health using modern media.
  • Brilliantly uses a classic manly character to say that it's ok to be depressed and offer advice. The small jokes in the information booklets like Gentlemental Health 101, such as Ben Leizman ‎"The effects of substance abuse on your brain are as ugly as an 80-year old fat man in spandex," really make the argument more effective and appealing. A very well done website and an idea that will save hundreds of lives.
  • Dr. Mahogany is hilarious, with just the right level of warmth to keep me feeling engaged. That's not easy!

About Cactus Marketing

Cactus is a full-service brand communications agency providing business solutions for companies and causes through brand strategy, advertising, design, interactive and media services. Cactus has been nationally recognized for its breakthrough creative executions by The One Show, Communication Arts, The Webby Awards, South by Southwest, Favourite Website Awards, Advertising Age, Creativity and Print’s Regional Design Annual. To learn more about Cactus, visit

About the Carson J Spencer Foundation - Sustaining a Passion for Life

The Carson J Spencer Foundation ( is a Colorado nonprofit, established in 2005.  We envision a world where leaders and communities are committed to sustaining a passion for life. We sustain a passion for life by:

  • Delivering innovative and effective suicide prevention programs for working-aged people
  • Coaching young leaders to develop social enterprises for mental health promotion and suicide prevention
  • Supporting people bereaved by suicide
About Colorado’s Office of Suicide Prevention

The Office of Suicide Prevention, a legislatively mandated entity of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, serves as the lead entity for statewide suicide prevention and intervention efforts, collaborating with Colorado communities to reduce the number of suicide deaths and attempts in the state. To learn more about the Office, visit


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