A couple of days ago, men's grooming brand Harry’s sent out an email to its customers, with this subject line: “Take care of yourself: We’re in this together.”
Then it encouraged the recipients -- men, mostly -- to seek help if the stress of the COVID-19 crisis was driving them a little crazy.
Men’s mental health is a special cause at Harry’s, which supports a few nonprofit partners, including the Crisis Text Line, a 24/7 service for those whose stress can cause everything from anxious moments to suicidal impulses.
Many companies are pledging help during the pandemic. Since Thursday, a banner at the top of Harry’s website suggests tapping into the texting service, too. “Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. Text ‘Feel’ to 741741 for free confidential support from a trained crisis counselor...,” it reads.
“There’s been an absolute surge of traffic at Crisis Text Line,” says Maggie Hureau, head of social impact at Harry’s.
That doesn’t surprise her: “People need mental health help now more than ever.”
When Hureau took the job at Harry’s two years ago, the company actively gave to a variety of men’s causes. But when she began homing in on a specific social mission for the company, she asked those organizations what was the one area where financial help was most urgently needed.
“Overwhelmingly, they said men’s mental health was a tremendously underserved cause,” Hureau says. From that info, Harry’s interest in the area took hold.
It didn’t take long to find out it was the right cause. Early on, Harry’s merely added a mention of its support of the Crisis Text Line under its “About Us" tab on its website. In a few days, Hureau says, she got a call from the organization.
“Oh my god, what did you do?” she says she was asked, because the crisis line suddenly received 300 texters traced back to the Harry’s site.
At a time that companies are learning that consumers, especially younger ones, want the brands they use to “stand for something,” crusading for men’s mental health fits nicely into that arena.
“I like it because it’s really aligned to our social mission. Harry’s is in the business of helping men self care for [themselves] on the outside. Our mission is to help people self-care on the inside,” she says.
The issues in the midst of the pandemic, the crisis service has told Hereau, are “overall anxiety and despair about financial issues, school closings, the things they’ve seen on social media.”
Hureau notes the suicide rate for men is 3.5 times higher than women, and when you get to other subcategories, the statistics are staggering. As many as 22 veterans a day take their own lives, according to Veteran’s Administration analysis of overall suicide statistics. And overall, The Mayo Clinic says male depression is under-diagnosed because men don’t always exhibit the standard signs they’re suffering.
Harry’s now has a “simple” goal of helping half a million men by 2021, and has pledged $5 million to various organizations.. On the website it now lists a half dozen agencies that can help men deal with depression, suicidal thoughts, or other issues.. Harry’s also lets employees take five days off per year to be trained to volunteer, so now Harry’s has crisis counselors on staff -- and more being trained as they work at home during the COVID-19 work disruption.