How to handle mental health issues in advertising

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Mercadeo Magazine Julio 2024

Advertising is the main channel to promote products and services. It can also become an incredible place to talk about problems or issues that we face nowadays. Mental health is one of those issues, and a major theme for new generations, from Millennials to Gen Z. We want that brands address this topic. We want to erase the stigma over mental and emotional problems. People must discuss this openly so we can start seeing a change. And the best way to do this is through advertising and brands. Keep reading!

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Tips for handling mental health issues in advertising

Let’s be clear we want to speak openly about mental and emotional issues. Still, at the same time, they must be handled carefully. This is because certain things can trigger a bad response in a person struggling with one or several of these issues. These campaigns must educate people about mental and emotional health, encourage people to seek professional help, and erase the stigma about these issues. 

You are not crazy, you’re human, and as one, we are allowed to feel and think many things, including the bad ones. The problem is how you deal and cope with them. After all, we cannot be happy all the time. When you feel that you are incapable of facing those bad feelings and thoughts, that is where you must seek help, especially the professional one. That is what a campaign about mental and emotional health can do: educate, embrace and point out the right service. 

Don’t despair. We will show some successful tips to create an incredible and touching mental and emotional health advertising campaign, all these based on social marketing techniques. 

Co-Design Approach

Here you will use input from people who have experienced or are experiencing these. Trust us having focus groups that will tell you firsthand how to face any of these issues can be exactly what will give you the proper objectives. Plus, these focus groups can be paired with experts from doctors to therapeutics that will present you with the other side of mental health, how professionals can help. Listening to the participants can help you to adapt and make changes that will benefit the campaign.  

Multiple Channels

We are living in an era when there are many ways to reach our target. For that reason, an Integrated Communication Campaign (ICC) can help you use different channels to spread the message across. For these types of campaigns, this is the best course of action. That way, you will have other media to spread the message. This also is a great way to reinforce and improve recall for information that the target can need shortly. 

Be Creative

This one is all about using the media available, don’t keep with just a simple image. Think bigger. Videos, photos, GIFs, TV and Radio commercials, posters, postcards, and many descargable things for people to share with their friends on social media. Remember, an advertising campaign about mental and emotional health can reach more people if shared through many channels. For that reason, this point works closely with the above one.

Call to Action

Any campaign about mental health should have CTAs everywhere. Remember, these campaigns are aimed to help those struggling with these issues, so the call to action must put them in direct contact with professionals, from a hotline to a specialized clinic, all for them to seek help. Many lives can be saved if they decide to reach that light that these CTAs can provide. 

Good mental health advertising campaigns

Lighten The Load by JanSport

This brand is widely known in the US thanks to becoming an iconic and classic accessory for students during the ’90s. The backpack brand decided last year to launch a special campaign about mental health and how it is affecting Gen Z. This is because 7 out of 10 young people said that they are struggling with a mental health issue. That was how Lighten The Load was born. The objective is simply connecting these youngs with tools that allow them to unpack their problems:

“If you’re not sharing it, you’re carrying it. If something’s weighing you down, let it out with #ShareItChallenge to help lighten the load.”

Using verbs related to their brand to make them share their stories fighting mental and emotional problems, JanSport presented an incredible campaign. This became a curated film series, where you can hear how these young people face, fight and live with different mental problems, but they’re able to #LightenTheLoad by sharing their stories, check the video below:

Heads Up by Heads Together and The FA

In the United Kingdom, there has been an increasing number of suicides of men under 45, which is alarming. What better way to connect with them than through the sport that British men love the most: Football. That is exactly what Heads Together, an initiative supported by The Royal Foundation with the active participation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, decided to do in 2019 partnered with The FA that regulates everything about Football in the British lands. They started this campaign on the premise: Imagine if we talk about mental health as much as we talk about Football, so they want to encourage men to discuss their mental problems just like discussing the latest Football match. 

“We are here today to take a big step in shattering this silence. We are going to use one of the most powerful, unifying forces in our society – Football – to start the biggest ever conversation on mental health.” – The Duke of Cambridge.

Those were the words of His Royal Highness when this campaign was launched. He has become an active participant in everything that Heads Together has done to eliminate the stigma and educate on the subject. Using Football slang, famous players and managers, plus having the future King talking openly about mental health, Heads Together wants to show that you are not the only one in this battle.

The latest chapter in this campaign is Sound of Support, where famous players and managers sit down to discuss how they deal and overcome challenges and how they impacted their mental health. The first episode of this series is with The Duke of Cambridge and England manager Gareth Southgate. Check it out:

These are just small examples of how the world is changing to accept that mental health is just as equally important as physical one. Remember, you must take the first step to seek out help. There will always be people ready to help you after that step; you are not alone even when you think so!

How advertising about mental health should be.

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