Approximately 1 in 5 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will experience mental illness or addictions each year. Stigma causes many of them not to seek help and also deeply affects every facet of their life from education and employment opportunities to friends, family and loved ones. The provincial Department of Health and Community Services has just launched a three year campaign to combat stigma and open up the conversation around mental illness and addictions.
This issue was already gaining momentum when we began our work. We wanted to build on the success of campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk and continue the conversation. The facts are staggering:
- 1 in 5 of us will experience mental illness or addictions issues in our lifetime. So if you’re not directly affected, someone you know is. This affects everyone.
- Stigma kills. Compassion heals. That’s a fact. Stigma causes people to suffer in silence, sometimes with tragic ends.
- Mental illness and addictions is the number one cause of absenteeism in the workplace. Each week 500,000 Canadians are absent due to mental illness. That’s an estimated $51 billion cost to the Canadian economy.
- After seeking help, those with lived experience lead rewarding lives and contribute to society. Recovery is not only possible, but likely!
We ensured our creative approach was about seeing the person, not the illness. We wanted to tell their story and complimented the television spots with real life stories on the website. We also felt it was important to focus on recovery. Campaigns that show people in crisis get your attention, but may actually build, rather than reduce stigma. Our central insight was if people understood more, it would change how they thought about the issue. And that understanding would be the start of changing everything. See more of the campaign at understandnow.ca.