This World Mental Health Day, the theme is ‘Make mental health and well-being for all a global priority.’ The pandemic saw a considerable increase in mental health problems – the Centre for Mental Health estimated that post-pandemic up to 10 million people are likely to need new or additional mental health support as a result of the Coronavirus1. Mental health services have felt the impact themselves – in the 12 months since the first national lockdown was announced, Rethink Mental Illness reported a 175% increase in demand for advice and information on their website2.
As a result, mental health is increasingly being brought to the forefront of conversation – and there’s never been a better time for it. With doctor’s waiting lists reaching record lengths and a cost of living crisis around the corner, it’s no surprise that charities, companies and individuals are campaigning for mental health to be a priority in line with changing attitudes.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): The Last Photo
This powerful campaign aimed to convey the message; suicidal doesn’t always look suicidal. Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) shared the last pictures and videos of people before they took their own life. The photos were featured on several channels – the most notable being an exhibition in London’s Southbank, which was live for 4 days at the end of June. They also have a landing page, with real stories of people from the campaign pictures.
‘The Last Photo’ aimed to raise awareness of suicide and reduce the stigma around it, prompting people to talk to their friends and family before it’s too late. We think it did just that – an incredibly emotive campaign that stopped people in their tracks3.
GymShark: Deload Barbershop
‘Gym Bros’ are a key player in the GymShark community. It’s well known that men are much more likely to suffer in silence when they experience symptoms of mental health issues; only 36% of referrals to the NHS talking therapies are for men4.
GymShark decided to do something to tackle that – they set up a pop-up ‘Deload Barbershop’ in Shoreditch. Not only did customers get a free haircut, but it was also a ‘non-judgemental safe space’ for men to open up and chat with barbers trained in mental health. The event flooded social feeds and made us think about men’s mental health. The 5 day event flooded TikTok – influencers and people getting a fresh trim shared their experience of the day without shame – exactly what GymShark wanted them to do.
GymShark has really shown how much they know their customers and how they’re really engaged in trying to help them overcome issues5.
ITV: Britain Get Talking
If you’re an avid Emmerdale watcher, you may have seen ITV’s ‘Britain Get Talking Campaign’. The mental wellness campaign has been active since 2019 and is a five-year commitment from ITV to promote mental wellness. Their goal is to get 10 million people to take action to improve their mental or physical health by 2023. The campaign has received support from cast members of ITV shows as well as Mind and Young Minds.
The message from the campaign has been consistently brought to the forefront of ITV’s comms over the past few years. When you’re watching tv, it’s rare you see the ITV logo without the ‘Britain Get Talking’ logo beneath it. They also have a podcast, where each week they talk to different ITV stars discussing their own mental health to normalise having conversations and speaking more openly about how you’re feeling.
The reach of this campaign so far has been huge, and we can’t wait to see what more ITV do, especially with the festive season coming up.
Samaritans: We Listen
It’s no secret – the Samaritans are amazing. Their 24/7 crisis service takes over 10,000 calls a day, helping countless people who are struggling and building a supportive atmosphere not only for service users but for volunteers too.
To promote their listening service, they launched their ‘We listen’ campaign. The OOH campaign featured a generic line that anyone would say to their friend, highlighting the actual meaning behind the words. The campaign aimed to raise awareness of the Samaritan’s crisis service – they don’t just hear, they listen. The posters show how easy it is to overlook the words that matter and miss when someone really needs our help6.
Dove: Self-Esteem Project
Dove is well-known for its work at improving body acceptance and highlighting flaws within the beauty industry – I’m sure most of us can recall the famous airbrushing video. They’ve recently launched their self-esteem project, created from a vision where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. As they’ve highlighted on the Self-Esteem Project landing page, 8 out of 10 girls are so concerned with how they look, that they opt out of important activities. They’ve even created Confidence Kits for parents and teachers to help build young people’s self-esteem.
Dove is doing great work, especially on social media. Not only do they use diverse influencers and models, but they’re also now encouraging followers to #DetoxTheirFeed, by encouraging them to unfollow accounts that make them feel uncomfortable in their own skin. More recently, they’ve been challenging the gaming industry to diversify their characters and make them more inclusive, using the tagline ‘Why does player 1 always have to be a size 0?’.
It’s great challenger brands like Dove that are really making a difference in the world – challenging the beauty industry’s reliance on self-esteem issues and instead building women and girls up, rather than tearing them down7.
We’re so glad that brands like the ones we’ve mentioned above are doing great work to bring mental health to the forefront of the conversation, and normalise speaking about how you’re feeling. Mental health really is as important as physical health and should be treated as a priority.
If you feel like you need to speak to anyone, don’t hesitate to contact the Samaritans. They’re great even if you just need a chat – it doesn’t have to be a crisis. Contact them at 116 123 or text SHOUT 85258 and contact a shout volunteer.