Creative in association withGear Seven
The Flemish Centre for Suicide Prevention Takes Us into the Minds of Men in Hard-Hitting Spot
Production Company
Brussels, Belgium
Belgium agency Lucy and HAMLET director Jara Moravec team up on campaign highlighting the high suicide rate among Flemish men

Research has shown that men tend to isolate themselves socially and emotionally, they do not recognise their own suffering, sometimes until it's too late, and suffer from a greater sense of shame when they suffer from psychological problems. In short, men find it hard to talk about their feelings.

The Flemish Centre for Suicide Prevention have observed that resistance to talking and sharing feelings occurs in two scenarios. The first one is that men experiencing mental health issues feel isolated and don't feel able to seek help to talk about their problems. The second is that men who sense that another man is suffering often do not feel comfortable making the approach to see if they need help.

Responding to an already high suicide rate among Flemish men aged 25 to 60, the organisation has collaborated with creative agency Lucy and international production company HAMLET to create ‘Reading Minds’, an online campaign with the dual purpose of not only urging men to seek help, but also to encourage anyone close to someone they think is not alright, to ask.

'Reading Minds' which will run on the centre’s social channels and website. Directed by Jara Moravec, the spot is set in the isolated, solemn surroundings of a car wash. A car with two men approaches a car wash. They stop the car, wind up the window and let the wipers glide over the car.

A heavy awkward silence descends around them, and the audience becomes privy to the individual thoughts going through the mind of each man. In reference to the two above-mentioned scenarios, one of the men is suffering, he doesn't see a way out, but he doesn't feel able to talk about it. His partner knows he has something on his mind, but also doesn't feel comfortable asking him. The suspense builds in the confined, airless, environment of the car, until someone finally plucks up the courage to talk. He takes a breath and turns to his friend to finally break the silence.

Gwendolyn Portzky, director of The Flemish Centre for Suicide Prevention commented: "This campaign is an important starting point for us to encourage men to recognise mental health problems in themselves or in men in their environment faster and to tackle them more actively. This crucial step towards recognition, openness and social support can protect men from possible suicidal thoughts or attempts. We also hope to be able to contribute to reducing the stigma surrounding mental health problems in men."

Director Jara Moravec said: "What drew me to this spot was its rawness. Solitary characters in one space, without any music, the story unfolding there and then. We often battle our demons in privacy but I wanted to keep a note of the “happy world” out there somewhere. Bring a patch of light into darkness. That’s why we hear a track called “Happy day from me to you”, happy and sad at the same time. Because life sometimes feels like driving through a carwash."

The Flemish Centre for Suicide Prevention is the Flemish Government’s partner organisation that was founded in 2013 for the prevention of suicide, and is affiliated with UGent, the University of Ghent.

Agency / Creative
Post Production / VFX