USE THE LANGUAGE OF YOUTH TO GET THE YOUTH USING LANGUAGE
LESS JUDGY MCJUDGE
When SeeMe, Scotland’s mental health charity for tackling stigma and discrimination in the workplace (and some of the nicest people), got commissioned by the Scottish Government to get young people between the ages of 8 to 26 talking about what mental health and wellbeing meant for them as part of the Year of the Young People 2018, we knew we had the opportunity to do some good while doing something great.
Mental health and the importance of looking after your noggin have always been a matter close to the heart for all of us here at Studio Something, so this project was a perfect fit. But the task wasn’t easy.
We needed to find a way to empower young people to start talking about their mental health in a world that they felt doesn’t listen. We needed to normalise the conversation to try and reduce stigma at an age when everyone else seems so ‘judgy’. We needed to give them a voice even when they felt they didn’t have the right words. Ultimately SeeMe wanted to know how young people actually felt about mental health if they could find this out then they could use those learnings to guide and policy at government level.
NOW LISTEN HERE, YOUNG MAN
Using the findings from the survey SeeMe carried out prior, we realised that there is a strong connection between the music we listen to and the way we feel. Whether we listen to a bit of pop to brighten a really grey Tuesday, or some really moody alternative to accompany us through a really rough time, music is always there - it’s a reflection of us.
But by talking with young people and researching their attitudes we found out they don’t only listen to music, but they also use it as a means to talk without having to say a word. They use music to actually show their feelings in plain sight. Sharing songs on Facebook, lyrics on Insta Stories or screenshots of music videos were all ways young people were trying to get others to see how they feel, in the hopes someone on the other side of the screen might notice.
This wasn’t the only form of this ‘coded’ discussion of feelings. When doing research it was clear that they were also doing this with emojis. They used these as ways of transpiring emotion.
The idea we had then was to combine these two ‘emotional languages’ to create something unique that might allow us to delve a little deeper into why young people feel the way they do.
Thus, FeelsFM was born. The world’s first emoji powered jukebox. An online platform that allowed you to select a playlist based on an emoji that best represented how you felt, whilst the generator was ‘working’ it would ask you a number of questions on why you selected the emoji you had. It was the perfect way to get young people to talk about something they didn’t know how to talk about.
NO BRAND BRANDING
An important thing about ‘Feels FM’ was that it felt like it wasn’t too ‘authoritative’. To avoid this, we removed any prominent SeeMe branding. SeeMe was there as a safety net, that meant that you didn’t need to dig far to find them but by not making them explicit it made it less likely that people would be put off by it being about ‘mental health’.
MUSIC TO MY EARS
We created an interactive website that not only offered young people a fun, entertaining platform but also helped us start a conversation about how they were feeling without having to ‘start a conversation’. Once they selected their emoji, our question as to why they picked it and what they thought would help young people open up seemed more natural.
TELL ME MORE, TELL ME MORE
Because we think that familiarity sparks a more open conversation, we incorporated additional features on our website that would keep visitors engaged for longer - a working GameBoy, a slo-mo vinyl player and other Easter Eggs that young people could have fun discovering.
While some features were there solely for entertainment and interaction, some of the Easter Eggs were used to get insights in a different kind of way. One such feature was the ‘Penny for your thoughts’ machine - a playful way of asking young people what they think would be a more comfortable way of talking about their feelings.
Together with the Mood-o-meter, we wanted to give visitors various opportunities for them to share their thoughts straight from the first page of the website, allowing SeeMe to gather information and data without making it into a formality.
We also included an ‘in case of an emergency’ box that informed young people of all the services that could help in case they ever felt they were going through a crisis.
Music got people talking.
In the first few months, the website had 70,000 visitors, with 75% of the visitors coming from 15-year-olds to 35-year-olds. People who went on it thought the playlists generated were very accurate, and the process of finding out what each emoji stands for very entertaining, making FeelsFM not only a fun tool to use but a very useful one as well. Even Jackie got involved, which took FeelsFM straight onto BBC News.
Almost 5,000 young people ranging from 8 to 26-year-olds answered the questions posed to them. Together with the conversation that was started on the website, conversations started on Twitter and Facebook as well, all of which helped us uncover a more accurate reality of what young people thought about their mental health. All of this gave SeeMe enough fuel to start a conversation of their own with the Scottish Government, and explore how they can enhance the work of the Ministerial Task Force, Youth Commission on Mental Health Services and See Me’s own work going forward.
What started as a brief to try and get young people talking about their mental health, FeelsFM turned into a lighthearted way to talk about something serious
Music. Emojis. Feelings.