Humen claustrophobic campaign spotlights men's mental health

The campaign created by Publicis agencies for the mental health charity asks, ‘Ever feel like the world is closing in on you?’

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


‘Ever feel like the world is closing in on you?’

This is the question posed by a new campaign from Publicis agencies for men’s mental health charity, Humen. The work spotlights the claustrophobic and overwhelming effects that mental health issues can have.

The work aims to bring to light the challenges that men face when it comes to mental health and launches as part of Men’s Health Month. The creative aims to start a movement to improve and call for better maintenance of men's mental health, questioning what it means to be a man and eliminating the stigmas around talking about mental health.

This concept is brought to life via a billboard campaign featuring British acting talent, that runs from 19th November in London.

The billboard campaign has been created with the help of Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness and features celebrities such as Cyril Nri (Bridgerton, Cucumber), Tom Rhys Harries (White Lines, Unforgotten), Sean Teale (Skins, Reign), Royce Pierreson (The Witcher), Harry Collett (House of the Dragon), River Hawkins (The Pope’s Exorcist and Founder of Humen). At first, each creative looks like the celebrities are taking part in a high-end fashion shoot in black and white but slowly the glass closes in until their faces are pressed up against it unable to breathe. The concept and powerful imagery brings to life the pressures of the everyday that men face and underline the importance of talking about things to relieve the pressure and allow breathing space.

“I wanted to create a campaign that defies the narrow confines of traditional masculinity and shed light on the universality of mental health. Communicating that mental health is an inherent part of everyone's journey, that we all have to manage and invest in,” says River Hawkins, Founder of Humen.

He continued: “I wanted to evoke a sense of vulnerability, steering away from the antiquated perceptions of what it means to be a man. It's about redefining the conversation in a new way and emphasising that vulnerability and challenges are not exclusive to a particular gender but are shared human experiences."

The campaign will be on display at Outernet London, a new entertainment, culture and art district in the West End which includes the largest digital exhibition space in Europe.

As well as the awareness campaign, Humen is also launching The Humen Space 1:1 project. This new venture will allow the charity to provide beneficiaries with 3 months of free therapy, which equates to 14 hours. This is currently more than the NHS, which is normally between 6 to 12 hours of therapy.

Funds will be raised for this initiative via a collection of t-shirts, costing £30 with all profits going to the charity. Buying just one t-shirt will help save 10 men who are struggling with their mental health.

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