Showing Birmingham and Solihull that ‘It’s Okay’ to ask for help with mental health parnership
Rachel McNair is the Communications & Marketing Lead for Birmingham Mind, one of the trio of services that EAST VILLAGE. supported through the ‘It’s Okay’ comms campaign.
Responding to increased pressure on mental health services due to the coronavirus pandemic, Birmingham Mind, Living Well UK, and the NHS Birmingham and Solihull ICB collaborated to create a free 24/7, one-stop phoneline; connecting people in real-time to experts who could support them in their hour of need.
Determined to encourage people to reach out and ask for help before they hit their breaking point, the partners were looking for a full-suite comms campaign that would raise awareness for the phoneline – and its subsequent supporting LiveChat, email, and in-person crisis cafés – across Birmingham and Solihull.
Our objectives were to:
- Create a consumer-friendly campaign that would effectively communicate the supports available
- Increase awareness around the helpline’s existence through organic and paid-for channels, including press, social media, OOH, and direct-mail
- Secure key partners – both clinical and in the community – to ensure the reach and engagement with the public spanned the region and was diverse and inclusive
EAST VILLAGE. facilitated the campaign from its initial concept design, brand work, and graphic design; through to its dissemination in the form of press releases, posters, flyers, comment pieces, social media graphics, and billboards.
This saw us engage over 50 partners – spanning grassroots organisations and local GP surgeries; through to supermarket giants Co-Op and Morrisons, shopping centres Bullring and Touchwood Solihull, and football teams Aston Villa FC and Birmingham City FC – to share the ‘It’s Okay’ message far and wide.
As well as this holistic approach, we also cultivated separate campaigns to reach specific ‘hard-to-reach’ demographics, identified by the NHS, where the uptake of mental health services were lowest. This saw us create an OOH campaign in key footfall areas in English and four other languages; as well as media partnerships with the likes of Birmingham Updates, Birmingham Live, and In Your Area to.
Building on the initial ‘It’s Okay’ campaign, we also supported Birmingham Mind’s takeover of the Bullring for Mental Health Awareness Week, which saw the iconic Bullring Bull placed in a box (the first time the statue has been out of public view since it was debuted two decades prior!) to encourage people to have #NoBull when talking about their mental health and wellbeing.
During the period, we secured over 40 pieces of coverage that featured the Helpline, including broadcast segments with ITV, Capital and Heart FM, Free Radio, and both radio and TV interviews on BBC News.
What was initially billed as an eight-week campaign – reaching its peak for January 2021’s Blue Monday – was so successful that is became a long-standing recurring campaign throughout the following two years.
It has been a pleasure working with EAST VILLAGE. over the last the years. Working with our NHS partners, we wanted to expand the reach of our 24/7 mental health helpline as part of an on-going wellbeing campaign for the region. EAST VILLAGE. developed the concept of the ‘It’s Okay Campaign’; a campaign that has helped to break the stigma in accessing mental health support. The campaign was a measured success: so much so, that we have revisited the campaign twice and the number of calls we are receiving (especially from those people with low-level wellbeing concerns) has significantly increased. I would wholly recommend EAST VILLAGE.’s professional and friendly team.”
Rachel McNair, Communications & Marketing Lead, Birmingham Mind