McCann Health Dubai and FP7 McCann Dubai create a thoughtful tool to help people navigate their mental health, writes LBB’s Laura Swinton
The United Arab Emirates is, like the rest of the world, facing a troubling mental health problem. Between 4-5% of population is estimated to be clinically depressed, and 15% mildly depressed. According to local doctors, cases are on the rise. Much of the issue revolves around the workplace - stress levels are high, with 60% of workers in the UAE identifying as stressed, and most of those identify their employment and office life as a main cause. And, given that around 80% of the population are expats, living away from home, the region is also home to some unique stressors.
Mental health issues in the UAE play out within a very particular social and cultural context and there is still a great deal of stigma around talking about one’s difficult feelings. Those struggling with stress, depression and anxiety find themselves feeling alone and confused, unable to articulate what they’re going through.
That’s why McCann Health Dubai joined forces with community mental health clinic The Lighthouse Centre to create a tool to help workplaces support their employees and to help those experiencing difficulties to identify and share their feelings. ‘unspoken uae’ is a beautifully illustrated picture book that depicts the anonymised experiences of a number of people currently under the care of Lighthouse. The book has been distributed to workplaces across the region.
The book’s creation is underpinned by local insight. Through their research and concept-testing, the team at McCann Health discovered that the approach taken to mental health communications in Western markets would not work in the UAE, thanks to stigma and misperceptions. Instead of trying to immediately force people to open up, the book provides a private space for people to consider their own state of mind, as well as a talking point to catalyse discussion.
Over 20 artists from across the region were recruited to create unique illustrations, depicting the unspoken feelings of those struggling with mental health issues. By simplifying the message and connecting it to impactful visuals, Lighthouse and the teams at McCann Health Dubai and FP7 McCann Dubai have has created a piece of communication that has enabled people in workplaces to identify with the thoughts and feelings in the book in a safe, introspective environment. All the quotes that people read in book are the real words of people who have been fighting life’s everyday challenges.
The book ends with contact details for Lighthouse and a reminder to readers that, if they find that the feelings described within are resonating, they are not alone.
The artists: Drew Bristow, Leendert Masselink, Paula Coop McCrory, Kurt Daley, Kristy Anne Ligones, Haneen Chaarawi, Marah Walid, Kara Guingona, Tin Cura, Ralph Gabriel, Shreya Kumar, Eldaveo, sleepysun.illust, Andaleeb Rizwan, Myrto Petrou, Clara Ilena, Regli Núñez, Dina Sami, Noriaki Tanimura, Lana Milburn, Winona Lichner, Mimoquirks, G1885, Temour Al Husban, Shira Noc, Arnold De Guzman, Dav Andrew, Mohamed Hassa
Client: The Lighthouse Centre for Well-Being, UAE
Agency: McCann Health Dubai and FP7 McCann Dubai
Karen Kamel - General Manager
Tahaab Rais - Regional Head of Strategy & Truth Central MENAT