The Huffington Post is using video to talk to men about mental health

In the U.K., the Huffington Post’s video team of seven is ramping up its original video output, running a series in November on men’s mental health.

The initiative, called “Building Modern Men,” will feature video blogs, original video series, written articles, and, in a hallmark move for the Huffington Post, it will be guest-edited by Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray. Last year was the first time it ran “Building the Modern Man” series, which featured mainly articles on topics like lad culture and fatherhood. So far, it has five original videos filmed, but it will be looking to create more, some of which will be more reactive to events in the news.

“What makes this project particularly ambitious is the number of videos we are creating for one project, the topic focus and the talent we have got on board to help,” said editor-in-chief Stephen Hull.

The first video, “Boys Do Cry,” asks high-profile men, like actor Mads Mikkelsen, politicians Alistair Campbell and Chuka Umunna, and broadcaster Owen Jones when they last cried. “Men crying is the last taboo,” adds Hull.

In keeping with the theme of high-profile men, it is also publishing original videos of footballers talking to their best friends about their friendship. Four of these, which range from two to five minutes long, will go live at intervals throughout the month. On International Men’s Day, Nov. 19, it will run a graphic-led video to tie in with the release of research into men’s mental health too.

It’s also creating video blogs to live on the site, with teaser versions cut down for Facebook and Instagram. “We know it won’t bring referrals,” said Hull. “In a distributed model, it’s about stories being talked about in different places.” One, for instance, is of a man, who has survived a suicide attempt, talking about how his life has changed.

It’s a sensitive topic, but the Huffington Post won’t be peddling just bad news and alarming suicide stats: Positive, uplifting content is firmly in its wheelhouse.

On Huffington Post U.K., “What’s Working,” what the publisher calls its solution-based journalism, covering stories where people come up with solutions to the challenges, is the most-viewed topic on the U.K. site. Articles like how a charity has helped 11,000 homeless people and this on cancer-detecting dogs receive over 70 percent more visits than the average, and 86 percent more referrals from social media, according to the publisher, which wouldn’t say what the baseline was.

“Talking about the problem is half the story.” said Hull. “Talking about the solution is the other half. Hard-hitting doesn’t always impact people. There needs to be a bit of humor in there; emotion is the currency of the internet.”

In the last six months, 15 videos uploaded to the Huffington Post U.K. Facebook account, which has nearly a million followers, had over a million views. The majority of them were positive. The most successful, according to Tubular Labs data, is video with a dog playing with a vacuum, which attracted over 9 million views. It may not have the solution to life’s big questions, but it’s feel-good content that goes down well on Facebook.

Images: Courtesy of the Huffington Post U.K.

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