McCANN HEALTH, Dubai / LIGHTHOUSE / 2018
During our conversations with The Lighthouse and young Arabs, we found that Western-style mental health communications were not going to be appropriate here in the UAE. We had to think in a completely different way to achieve our goals of creating awareness for mental health, so we collected a selection of anonymous quotations from young Arabs who were dealing with mental health issues. We wanted to speak to young Arabs in their own words.
We commissioned illustrators and artists from all over the world to take these quotations and bring them to life visually and compiled them into a book called Anonymous, UAE.
By simplifying the message and connecting it to impactful visuals, we created a piece of communication that enabled young Arabs to identify with the thoughts and feelings in the book in an environment they felt comfortable expressing themselves.
Over the course of a month we worked with 28 artists from all over the world to develop unique visuals depicting the anonymous quotations. These illustrations were compiled into a book with a simple introduction explaining the project and a message at the end that encouraged the reader to think about their own mental health, along with a contact page for the Lighthouse that prompted the reader to reach out should they feel the need to talk.
We set up a booth at the event with campaign branding and oversized printed illustrations.
We created a dropbox where visitors to our booth could submit their own mental health quotations anonymously. We received statements relating to sexuality, suicide, self-harm and sexual abuse. These notes have been shared with the The Executive Council.
We gave away 500 books and took part in thousands of interactions with young Arab visitors to the Comic Con.
500 copies of the book were given out, which means that 500 young Arabs now know they have an outlet should they want to talk to a professional.
Nearly everybody who saw the book commented what a wonderful idea it was and that they know a friend or family member who was going through something similar.
Passers-by of the booth said they felt inspired to implement mental health focused programs at their workplace, including the Head of Corporate Governance & Sustainability at Noor Bank.
The book has been presented to The Executive Council, the advisory group who advise His Royal Highness Sheikh Mohammed, in the hope that this project will be a springboard for future conversations about mental health in the Middle East. The Executive Council have enquired about the feasibility of using the book in schools as part of new government plans to tackle the subject of mental health.