Our Better World (OBW) is the digital storytelling initiative of the Singapore International Foundation that tells stories across Asia to inspire people online to take action and create a positive impact in the world.
At OBW, we create specific series so you can dive deeper into a single cause, topic or issue. Our Mental Health Series is entitled Silent No More - Giving Voice to Mental Illness. The most compelling reason we do this series is because mental health affects all of us – including everyone we love. We can all do something about it.
Stigma - from public or self - and lack of awareness of symptoms are two common reasons that prevent people with mental conditions from seeking treatment. Most mental illness related research as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO) cite that fighting against stigma is crucial for the work of improving mental health illness crisis in the world.
According to WHO, half of mental illness begin at age 14 and three-quarters by mid-20s. To fight stigma and raise awareness of mental health illness, more stories and communication of relevant stories need to be done within the society - starting with the youth and their family.
The series aimed to:
It was clear we needed to speak with youths and their family about mental illness – we decided to approach it with voices representing the various segments of society. We titled the campaign “Silent no more – giving voice to mental illness”.
Three video stories were produced – two in Singapore and one in Indonesia - showing the angles from a youth patient with major depressive disorder and her recovery journey; how a family rallied around a patient with schizophrenia; a bereaved mother’s strength in turning her grief of her son’s suicide into helping other youth.
Complementing the three anchor video stories are first person blogs and resources aimed to inform the audience on recognizing illnesses, getting hold of helplines, and applying tips on coping with and helping a friend who may have mental illness.
In October 2019, to kickstart the campaign, we promoted a trailer on Facebook about the stigma faced by people with mental health conditions, a teaser video to each of the three stories on our FB page as promoted each of the three full video stories to reach audiences within the platform. We also re-created one of the resource from text into bite-sized video on recognizing signs of mental illness for the social media audience.
On Instagram, besides posting about the three video stories and the bite-sized resources, we created a campaign specifically targeting youth to encourage them to talk about their mental health – A “How Are You Feeling” campaign.
We started the campaign with a simple illustration depicting a thoughtful youth (gender non-identified), simply asking the audience “How are you feeling” and encouraging them to share with us, through Instagram story question, how they are feeling today. Each message to us was met with a thoughtful and sensitive reply to their feelings either through an IG story or a personal DM, thus creating a safe space for them. In real-time, we worked with the same illustrator to depict the feelings shared by our community into 12 illustrations posted on our IG and created as Telegram and Whatsapp stickers for download. Twelve illustrations that gave dignity to their feelings and encouraged them to share their feelings.
Finally, we rounded the campaign with an on-ground event for our community in Singapore, bringing together the people featured in the stories on a panel. The evening gathered over 100 people in the room. It was an intimate sharing of personal experiences, advice to the rest in the room from their lived experiences and sharing of contacts for further collaboration on the mental health space.
The campaign achieved over 2.4million views online and 712 public comments on our posts. A phenomenal we observed was that majority of the comments had friends tagging friends without any other comments. Given the sensitivity of the topic, we believe many other conversations are triggered in the private space upon watching our videos.
Our goals were to increase awareness to reduce stigma, increase empathy for people with mental health conditions and to encourage people to talk about mental health. These goals can’t be measured just by view counts. We carried out a dipstick survey on the series page on our site and through 236 respondents, it revealed that:
For respondents who identified themselves without mental illness, we wanted to find out if the stories increased their empathy for people with mental illness – result was a 4.1 score out of 5 points
For the same respondents, when asked if they are more inclined to interact with or support people who may have mental illness – the result was an average score of 3.9 out of 5.
Most encouragingly, we received a lot of feedback that they appreciated such stories being told and requested for more.
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