It’s not the first time I get to review a campaign that focuses on mental health in men, these campaigns seem to be getting better all the time.
Brought up since they are small kids to be strong and ‘manly’, men are traditionally taught to put a brave face on things, not to cry.
And even if they are not brought up that way, many men find it hard to communicate their innermost feelings.
So, what are they then supposed to do when things get so tough there is nowhere to turn?
Much has been made of women being the ‘weaker sex’, and yet since the beginning of time a woman has had to cope alone even when married, by holding the fort and keeping everyone else strong no matter what.
Her man could be at work, at war, gallivanting with other women, or might have left. A woman copes, cries, overshares with other women, then soldiers on. No matter what.
The Big Idea
Despite the genders being equal in so many ways, a man’s state of mind can be incredibly fragile, all the more so if his feelings are bottled up: it is a fact that the highest demographic for suicide involves men.
Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in this country.
Whether it’s down to nature or nurture, it’s so much more difficult for them to open up. The Samaritans’ website says “Two in five men in England, Scotland and Wales aged 20-59 don't seek support when they need to, because they prefer to solve their own problems”.
So, the Samaritans have come up with a new awareness campaign, to remind men that quite simply it’s ok to share their feelings.
What They Did
This is a storytelling campaign based on real men’s stories.
They are told via a series of candid confessional videos, and print ads in bold colours featuring headlines such as ‘It’s ok not to be ok’, ‘Sometimes it’s alright not to be alright’ and ‘Talking can change your life’ written in ordinary men’s handwriting, and signed by them.
So we can read Steve’s story, Tony’s, Ollie’s.
Real stories from real people.
Stories of job losses, close family bereavements, or anxiety and depression, all of which plague most people from time to time, but which can cause so much damage when the burden is not shared.
I find the bravery of these men both dignified and moving, as they bare their souls to the camera in order to help other men.
The message is that whoever you are, you’re not weird, or weak.
Other men, real ones, have been there, and there is no shame in talking to someone or asking for help.
It’s not unrealistic to think that someone’s life will be saved by reading one of these stories. It could be someone we know: a friend, a son, a husband.
That in itself is the campaign’s raison d’etre, and a credit to the Samaritans.
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