Health Service Executive (HSE)

Creating a conversation around mental health

With over 100,000 employees, the Health Service Executive (HSE) provides public health and social care services to everyone who lives in Ireland. By coordinating resources and efforts across eleven regions, the organisation aims to provide everyone in Ireland with high-quality health services. The HSE’s Mental Health Team was already using social media to promote positive protective behaviours for mental health. But they wanted to elevate their online efforts so they turned to DEPT® to help them deliver a thoughtful approach that catered to their audience’s needs.

An uplifting social media campaign

Our health encompasses many aspects yet one element that is often neglected is our mental health. HSE’s Mental Health Team wanted to continue the conversation around mental health, an important topic that many people still feel uncomfortable discussing. So, the team turned to DEPT® for help. Our Dutch and Irish teams worked closely together to create an always-on Facebook and Instagram campaign which would appeal to their target audience.  

HSE used social media to talk about an often-neglected topic: mental health

Crafting the perfect campaign

We started by taking an outside-in approach to ensure the campaign strategy was relevant. This meant we looked at current events in Ireland and beyond with the HSE team then created different messages that would connect with the audience and provide them with the most up to date resources to help protect and manage their mental health. We covered a broad range of topics from helping yourself or your child if they have an eating disorder to improving your quality of sleep. The variety of topics ensured that the Mental Health Team was able to reach a large section of the Irish population with a tailored message and associated helpful resources. 

However, we didn’t simply rely on words to connect with the audience. We also wanted to incorporate images as, after all, a picture is worth a thousand words. So, we designed graphics, both static images and animations, with bright and soothing colours which would draw the viewer’s attention while not overwhelming their visual senses.

With the text and images in place, we created two versions of each ad, one that had an informative tone of voice and one with a more personal tone. The two options were A/B tested to see which one would perform best before being posted on the company’s social media. This ensured HSE only pushed out the top-performing posts.

Using data to deliver the right message

The aim of the campaign was to reach as many people as possible, but with the right message. As everyone has different struggles depending on their age and stage in life, we wanted to ensure that the same campaign was not seen by everyone. So we harnessed the power of data to hyper-target the ads. We created different target groups and, within that, separate audiences for each Facebook and Instagram post our team created. This ensured that the right content and social post was shown to the right people. For example, parents were only shown parenting content. In comparison, elderly people were shown tips on how to keep healthy even if they had limited mobility. However, some posts were meant for the more general Irish population and so targeting was adjusted to reflect that on both Facebook and Instagram. 

Mental health is even more important during a pandemic

Less than a month after we began Facebook and Instagram campaigns for HSE, COVID-19 arrived on our shores and the HSE found itself under a huge amount of pressure. However, it was more important than ever to talk about mental health and provide people with the resources they needed to take care of themselves. So within the space of a week, we quickly changed the campaign messaging and approach to reflect this new stressor. From dealing with an increase in stress and grief-like emotions to information about working remotely in a healthy manner and free counselling resources, our social posts were still tailored and targeted towards specific audiences, but they reflected the new normal we were living in.


people reached


click-through links


shared posts

A social media strategy to raise awareness

Now, unlike most social strategies, the aim in this context was not to increase engagement or grow the team’s online presence. So instead success was measured via the various campaigns’ reach and awareness raised. So, over a period of five months, this is what our team achieved:

  • 2.3 million people reached 
  • 21k click-through links to suggested resources
  • 1.2k shared posts and 550 saved posts

Together, we elevated the team’s social media strategy by harnessing the power of creativity and data to reach the right people with the right message and resources to ensure no one forgets to take care of their mental health.


Strategy Consultant

Simon Walsh

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