Autistica campaigns for mental health support for people with autism

The campaign from Ogilvy Health attempts to Break the Cycle for autistic people in mental health units

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


A new campaign from autism charity, Autistica, draws attention to the fact that more than six in ten children and adults in mental health units are autistic.

The campaign, ‘Break the Cycle’ aims to combat this statistic and seeks government support to help deliver the charity’s 2021 Autism Strategy to support people with autism and prevent them from reaching a crisis. 

The campaign has been created with the help of Ogilvy Health UK and its neurodiversity network ReWired. It is made up of out of home installations of striking illustrations that bring to life the emotions felt when people with autism have been detained. The illustrations have been created by autistic artist Lury Araujo Nascimento Lira de Medeiros of Lightfarm Studios and draw on first hand experiences from Autistica Insights Group.

Alongside impactful illustrations of people’s faces in distress, words such as ‘frustrated’, ‘afraid’ and ‘misunderstood’ are displayed to further bring to life the emotion. The background of the images show scraps from old asylum papers to highlight the archaic practices and lack of progress.

“The archaic way in which people with autism are treated through the mental health act is creating a systemic distress to thousands in the UK. We wanted this work to both shock and enlighten the public about this hidden horror in our system. It was vital that we tackled the subject carefully, and with as much authenticity as possible, which is why all of the campaign stems from real experiences, and was beautifully brought to life by autistic illustrator Lira,” explains John McPartland,  Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy Health UK.

Where autistic people are often forced to wait years for a diagnosis, they are six times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers and seven in ten have one or more mental health condition.

“It is unacceptable that such huge numbers of autistic people are reaching crisis, yet nothing is being done to change the system. It is clear that we need to understand how to better support autistic people from day one. Without research into better solutions, and investment in services, these figures will only worsen, and more lives will be destroyed, or tragically lost.” adds Dr James Cusack, CEO, Autistica.

The harrowing campaign shows that a one-size-fits-all solution to mental health is ineffective. By bringing to life emotion and drawing on lived experiences from people with autism, the campaign shines a light on a flawed system and calls for change.

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Neurodiversity awareness