Rethink has created its first television advertisment as part of an anti-stigma campaign in Northern Ireland. 'Down the pub' was produced to encourage people to reconsider their attitudes toward mental illness by challenging negative stereotypes.
The 30-second commercial, in which a young man discusses his schizophrenia with friends in a pub, was directed by Tim O'Mara, who has worked on soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale. The advert also features Corrie star Simon Gregson, who waived his personal fee to appear.
Fergus Cooper, public affairs manager for the mental illness charity, said it decided to use an advert to reach as much of Northern Ireland's population as possible. It will go out on UTV.
The charity has organised other activities, including a PR campaign, a film festival and a play. "I wanted a number of different things that would reach a younger audience," Cooper says. "Our research shows that this audience is resistant to formal media."
The film festival, Movies in Mind, took place at the Queen's Film Theatre in Belfast. All of the films, including cult favourite Donnie Darko, explored the theme of mental illness. The charity has also invited young film makers to submit movies on the theme of emotional wellbeing for a Frames of Mind competition.The play, Revolving Door, explores the issue of teenage suicide.
A key element of the campaign has been the participation of mental health service users and carers, says Cooper.