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Photo: Screencap from “Inside”, a television commercial by Dentsu Philippines for the Philippine Psychiatric Association, to help gather signatures for the first ever Mental Health Act in the country

The goal of any mental health ad is to end the stigma. Because misconceptions have been garnered over the years, these ads aim to counter common myths about mental health in a way that people who don’t experience any form of mental illness will still be able to understand. The aim of advertisers is to generally have the public react in the same way another ad will make a viewer buy a certain product or watch a specific television series. What mental health ads intend to do, however, first and foremost, is raise awareness, and, of course, to make people listen. That’s why most of these mental health ads pursue a singular theme which is ending the silence. A difficult feat for campaigns that began way back then, when people simply turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to taboo issues – but now? It looks like things are starting to change for the better.

A few years back, most ads for mental health come in the form of public service announcement videos, and a vast majority of them are uploaded and shared multiple times via YouTube. Despite the amount of people that try to bring to light such an internationally taboo topic, the exposure is just not enough coming from little known organizations and companies, especially in a country – more so, continent – that refuses to acknowledge the existence and reality of mental health issues.

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Photo: “Wear a plaster. End the silence.” — A campaign launched by the Samaritans of Singapore for Suicide Prevention Week, devised by TBWA\Singapore, featuring Singaporean celebrities

Mental health has always been a very taboo topic in Asia, surprisingly much more so than sex. Asians have generally been taught to be conservative from youth. It is hard to say whether or not mental health is even a constant idea within the largest continent in the world. But because of modern technology – thanks to the large involvement of television and magazines, and more often than not, the whimsical world of the Internet – one can say that the intention for change is definitely there.

Non-profit organizations from all over the world – yes, including Asia! – have began teaming up with advertising and public relation companies to devise striking above-the-line campaign strategies that will keep people interested and informed. They called upon celebrities to endorse these campaigns not only to attract attention, but to also make them conscious about the fact that anyone can be affected by the decline of mental health.

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Photo: Marie Claire Australia’s “Shine a Light” Campaign on depression by Alexia Sinclair, featuring Female Australian celebrities

Fortunately, however, bigger companies have begun to show a gradually increasing interest in helping spread awareness on mental health. Widely-known companies are joining the fight to end the stigma by presenting some of the most visually creative ads to help their audience understand why they are adamant in pursuing awareness on such a topic. For one, and something people fail to remember: everyone has mental health. Two, there are too many common myths that make people fear association with anyone that needs mental help, which, really should not even be the case.

In the end, the best advice to give anyone who wants to help is to have them simply utter these three important words: I will listen.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression, call the Manila Lifeline Center at (02)896-91-91 or 0917-854-9191, or the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation at (02)804-HOPE / (02)804-4673 or 0917-558-HOPE / 0917-558-4673.

Photo: IWillListen.org - A Campaign by JWT New York supports mental health on social media

Photo: IWillListen.org – A Campaign by JWT New York supports mental health on social media