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Innovators Awards: Marketing/Communications winner, The Journal

WINNER - MARKETING/COMMUNICATIONS

What: An online mentoring system for Kiwis with depression

Who: Advertising agency DraftFCB

Why you should care: Depression is set to become the biggest health burden on society, both economically and sociologically, by 2020.

Judges say: The Journal is an innovative use of existing platforms to change behaviours and combat a pressing problem for New Zealand and globally, and it has the potential to significantly reduce costs to the health sector.

New Zealand has the second highest rate of depression in the developed world, and in spite of successful marketing campaigns to help cure it, more than 73 percent of sufferers don’t seek medical help.

Auckland advertising agency DraftFCB set out to change that by offering an alternative to overcome the obstacles to accessing traditional treatment: an online solution called The Journal.

The site shepherded people through the lifestyle changes and mental skills they need to recover from depression, guided by advertising spokesman and former All Black John Kirwan.

In its first year The Journal helped more than 8,500 people reduce the severity of their symptoms by half. During that period, GPs reported 4,579 new cases of depression – a 10-fold lift in year-on-year growth in GP consults. Together this represents a 245 percent increase in the numbers of people seeking help.

The traditional treatment for depression (cited as five visits to a doctor and a course of anti-depressants) is estimated to cost the government $1,208, and the patient $183.

After 12 months The Journal has achieved a cost per user of $211, a figure that includes development and delivery costs of both the website and marketing campaign.

The Journal is ultimately a world-first – a mental health service built on the best customer engagement and communication principles used by advertising agencies. It recognised the patient’s need for both emotional and functional support to recover from depression, and serves as a reminder that when Kiwis break traditional conventions and look at problems from a different angle we can create world-leading solutions to pressing problems.