Small Agency of the Year, Pro Bono: Cactus

'Man Therapy' Uses Humor to Tackle Serious Topic of Mental Health

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How do you begin a dialogue with men about serious topics like mental health and suicide? First, you lighten the mood with a mustached (fake) M.D. named Dr. Rich Mahogany.

That's the thrust of "Man Therapy," a pro bono campaign from Denver-based agency Cactus on behalf of the Carson J. Spencer Foundation & Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention. "Man Therapy" encourages men to acknowledge and talk about their mental-health issues, and to seek help sooner rather later.

"A big part of the campaign was trying to normalize mental health for men," said Joe Conrad, founder and CEO of Cactus. "This is just another part of your body. It's something you can take care of -- fix it and will get better."

The campaign's centerpiece is the website, in which Dr. Mahogany, who resembles the Ron Swanson character from "Parks and Recreation," welcomes visitors to the site by cracking a joke at the expense of "hippies" or dropping a bleeped-out F-bomb. The most impressive part of the Dr. Mahogany character is his ability to use the right amount of lightheartedness when discussing such a serious topic.

Since the campaign rolled out in July 2012, more than 52,500 people have taken an 18-point "head inspection," which offers advice and recommendations, the agency said.

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