Creative in association withGear Seven

Heroes Need Help Too in Powerful Mind Charity Campaign

Advertising Agency
London, UK
‘Heroes’ from McCann Enterprise aims to destigmatise asking for mental health support within the emergency responder community

McCann Enterprise has launched ‘Heroes’, a new campaign for mental health charity, Mind.  

‘Heroes’ launch aims to raise awareness of Mind’s Blue Light Program of mental health support for emergency responders in the UK. The campaign will signpost 999 staff and volunteers across ambulance, police, fire and search and rescue services to the new website and aims to destigmatise asking for help within the emergency responder community. 

Mind’s Blue Light Programme was re-launched in March 2021 following the outbreak of coronavirus, thanks to funding from The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Covid-19 Response Fund. 

Launching throughout November, the ‘Heroes’ campaign will come to life across TVC, OOH, radio and social. The TVC will also feature on ITV’s VOD platform.   

The campaign showcases what it's like to be on the other end of the hero narrative. The creative inspiration for the campaign came from the overuse of the word ‘Hero’ during the pandemic. Mind’s research found that while hailing emergency responders as 'heroes' can seem harmless on the surface, many emergency responders felt this terminology increased the pressure they felt to deal with increasingly challenging demanding and life-threatening roles they carry out every day.  

A March 2021 Mind survey of almost 4,000 staff and volunteers across police, fire and ambulance services found seven in ten (69 per cent) reporting a worsening of mental health over the past year. Despite this, two in five indicated that they wouldn’t feel confident discussing mental health with their line manager. The research also found many barriers to accessing support, from not wanting to be viewed as weak, to a fear of losing their job or jeopardising their career. Only 16 per cent of emergency responders sought help for their mental health during the first year of the pandemic. Many emergency responders also expressed that increased attention from the media, the public and even friends and family during the pandemic has only added to the pressure of their job. 

Daniele Pulega, creative director at McCann Enterprise said: “We often forget the power that words can have. By labelling emergency responders as “heroes”, we impose on them an expectation of superhuman strength and invulnerability which is impossible to meet. The campaign aims to reveal how the word ‘hero’ has transformed from a badge of honour to a haunting burden, giving emergency responders the freedom to be nothing more than who they really are: ordinary people with extraordinary jobs.” 

Mental health can affect everyone differently, so it was important that the campaign had the views and experiences of people with mental health problems at its heart. In order to be honest and authentic, McCann Enterprise worked closely with emergency responders and cast four current and former 999 staff and volunteers in the TV ad.  

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind said: “Even before the pandemic, our hard-working emergency responders faced challenging and potentially life-threatening situations every day. We know that coronavirus has impacted the mental health of emergency services staff and volunteers, as many faced making more difficult and potentially life-and-death decisions on a daily basis, as well as dealing with death and bereavement, in addition to concerns for their own health and wellbeing and that of their loved ones.  

“While well-meaning, being labelled a ‘hero’ often causes Blue Light staff to feel more pressure, when they are human like everyone else, and many are understandably in need of support to help them deal with traumatic events.  

“We’re grateful to McCann Enterprise for helping us develop this powerful campaign, which we hope will help raise awareness of mental health among 999 workers and volunteers and encourage those who are struggling to open up and access support available, including through Mind’s Blue Light Programme.” 

The ‘Heroes’ campaign has been produced in partnership with CRAFT and Unit9. 

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