My 5 favourite mental health campaigns

My 5 favourite mental health campaigns

Making an impact: my 5 favourite mental health campaigns that break barriers

These days, there’s an awareness or celebration day for absolutely everything.

Have you ever been abducted by aliens? Well 20th March is Extraterrestrial Abductions Day, where you can share your experience with fellow abductees. Fancy a challenge? Put Dance Like a Chicken Day in your diary on the 14th May and dance like nobody’s watching.

Jokes aside, having national and international holidays can be really beneficial. Whether it’s shedding light on a community or marginalised individuals, or simply encouraging societies to get together and do something fun – they can bring a sense of camaraderie and good will to your day.

That's why Mental Health Awareness days, weeks, and months are so important— they shine a spotlight on something that affects so many of us (1 in 4) but often gets swept under the rug.

No mind, left behind

According to Mind, over 2 million people are waiting for mental health services through the NHS. And since 2017, the number of young people struggling with mental health issues has almost doubled.

But awareness weeks and days give us a chance to change the narrative, like many brands, companies, and advocates have through powerful PR and emotional marketing. I’ve compiled a list of my favourite campaigns that have made an impact on me, and society, to not only inspire but hopefully help.

1.    Mind – If this speaks to you


It would be rude not to start with the trailblazers of mental health advocacy, Mind. Mind have propelled mental health awareness into mainstream society for over 60 years, but more recently in the 21st century. As a frequent supporter of the charity myself, I was really pleased when Herd invited the entire team to take part in Mind's mental health training and can wholeheartedly say what they do is incredible.

Mind's mental health campaign, "If this speaks to you, speak to us", seeks to redefine the discourse surrounding mental health and improve our capacity to empathise with others.

In this ongoing series, each video features an individual sharing their mental health journey, accompanied by an artist who crafts and presents a 30-second poem inspired by their experiences. As a lover of all things lyrical, especially literature and poetry, this really spoke to me!

This powerful portrayal of poetry highlights the importance of how spoken word can appeal to an audience by engaging storytelling, empowering messages, and creative expression.

For more information or support, visit Mind.

2.   McDonalds – Not So Happy Meal

McDonald’s never shy away from simple yet effective marketing stunts, and this year they did the unconventional and removed the smile from their iconic Happy Meals®. The message was clear, concise, and courageous – highlighting that we may not always feel happy, and that’s okay.

McDonald’s research found that almost half (48%) of UK kids feel pressured to be happy all the time, even when they don't want to be. To encourage conversations, they've replaced the iconic smile on millions of Happy Meal® boxes during Mental Health Awareness Week (May 12th – 19th).

Football legend and mental health advocate, Rio Ferdinand, backed the campaign, as well as charity partner BBC Children in Need. The boxes, available in all McDonald’s restaurants, come with emotive stickers for children to express their feelings.

Access to resources for conversations on emotional well-being were provided through QR codes on the boxes and McDonald’s digital platforms, making support accessible and inclusive. Both offline and online marketing were utilised to cover all bases. Brilliant work, McDonalds!

For more information or support, visit BBC Children in Need.

3.   Norwich City Football Club - #YouAreNotAlone

Now you may recognise this next one as it went viral, and quite rightly so. Released by Norwich City FC, the short clip depicts two men watching numerous football matches together, with one appearing significantly happier than the other. Though there is a profound twist at the end of the clip that shook the nation.

According to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics, globally, 1 in 8 men will grapple with mental health issues at some point in their lives. Yet, the narrative surrounding this has long been sidelined, overlooked, and misunderstood.

Recognising the urgency of this issue, Norwich City joined forces with Samaritans to give a voice to men's mental health in a manner that touched the hearts of so many. Their message is clear and compelling - check in on those around you, even if they appear ‘OK’. It was the twist at the end, where the seemingly happier man committed suicide, that made the campaign all the more shocking to audiences.

It's a powerful reminder of the importance of reaching out, of listening, of being there for one another, even when you think someone doesn’t seem like they need it. Norwich City showed that in times of crisis, knowing where to turn is crucial. An initial chat is a great place to start.

For more information or support, visit Samaritans.

4.   The Ordinary – A ‘no thrills’ message in a bottle

When I first saw The Ordinary’s latest billboard advertisement circulating on LinkedIn, I was instantly hooked. Though it isn’t strictly a mental health campaign, the tropes and themes it touched upon spoke volumes for the impact high-profile endorsements and glamorous advertising can have on the mental health of individuals.

Humorously stating, “Someone said working with celebrities would be good for our brand. But we couldn’t find one with a degree in biochemistry,” they hit the nail on the head when it comes to brand authenticity and integrity. Departing from industry norms, this shift not only reinforces The Ordinary's straightforward image, but also resonates with consumers who prioritise substance over style.

The campaign encourages audiences to prioritise their mental well-being over societal pressures and unrealistic beauty standards, often perpetuated by celebrity culture.

This shift towards authenticity and transparency in skincare can contribute to a healthier mindset by encouraging consumers to make choices based on genuine product benefits, rather than external influences.

5.   BBC Children in Need – The Heaviest Backpack

Last, but certainly not least, an outstanding message carried out by Children in Need that was championed by dozens of celebrities. The campaign, symbolised by a heavy backpack, aims to raise awareness around children’s mental health. It sees resources provided to lighten these burdens and spark conversations on the issue nationwide.

The film underscores the growing mental health challenges faced by children, with 1 in 5 now grappling with mental health issues. It emphasises the crucial role of positive relationships in safeguarding children's mental well-being and offers free resources.

Supported by a Censuswide survey, the campaign reveals alarming statistics that over a quarter of children regularly experience anxiety, with many likening their worries to the weight of books or bricks. The survey identifies key stressors for children, including academic pressures, loss, body image concerns, and social acceptance.

Another hard-hitting but perfectly executed awareness piece by Children in Need.

The bottom line

Mental health awareness should no doubt be supported every day of the year. But special occasions such as the week just gone are a reminder of the importance of addressing the subject, and fostering supportive environments where no one faces their struggles alone.

The campaigns highlighted above underscore the importance of marketing and brand campaigns to destigmatise such issues and promote empathy, equality, and inclusivity.

Though I know people can be quick to criticise brands ‘jumping on the bandwagon’, but if your campaign springs from genuine intent, go for it. But crafting a successful message isn't a universal skill. Remember, timing and context matter.

A few years back, I wrote an article about the biggest PR blunders, analysing their missteps and the fallout they faced. It's important not to fall into that trap.

Want to make an impact with your next campaign? Get in touch with us today and see how we can help!

Sobre el autor

Leah Archibald

Leah Archibald, Senior PR & Content Executive

Leah is our Senior PR and Content Executive, with many years experience in delivering impactful campaigns for major brands. She's a talented wordsmith whose enthusiasm for keeping our social media exciting rubs off on the rest of our Herd.

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