The Black Dog campaign was created by a mental health charity SANE. The black dog has been used as a metaphor for depression and aims to bring the campaign to life with the use of black dog statues all around the country. Those suffering from mental health problems find it incredibly difficult to explain to others. The statues are placed as a physical presence to help people define their experiences with an ‘invisible’ illness. It also promotes discussion, understanding and acceptance, which ultimately contributes to decreasing the stigma attached to mental health. Celebrities, artists and members of the public are encouraged to get involved by designing ‘collars of hope’ and coats for the Black Dog campaign.
The Black Dog Campaign aims are:
- Reduce stigma, prejudice and exclusion
- Encourage more people to seek help
- Educate members of the public – #stopstigma
- Take mental health into schools, colleges and the workplace
- Change perceptions of mental illness
- Demonstrate the importance of research
- Involve young people in mental health
- Change attitudes of future generations
The Black Dog Campaign’s main activities are:
- Personalised support: helpline, email, online forum, caller care, text care, carers’ circle
- Social media: support and information via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
- Websites: information and resources, and a place to express oneself, communicate with an informed community and give/receive peer support
SANE has divided The Black Dog campaign into phases in order to set targets and breakdown the workload. The charity has already been successful in phase one of the campaign.
Phase 1: 1 March – 31 October 2011: Establish the campaign concept; gain support from stakeholders; obtain initial funding; organise celebrity launch; get media support and social media following; implement the first stage rollout.
Phase 2: 1 November 2011 – 31 March 2017: Full campaign implementation; Press, media and events; Corporate partners; MP’s, Ministers and Government departments; Send a Text Save a Life; Spotify and music sharing; Schools initiative; Mental health Summit focusing on workplace issues; Black Dog Auction.
Phase 3: 1 April 2017 – 30 June 2017: Distribute Black Dog statues to schools; do follow up media and communications; disseminate final campaign report and summary of achievements.
SANE have been very successful in gathering support from service users and celebrities. The charity also hold competitions to encourage participation such as asking people to answer the question ‘What does mental health mean to you?’ in the form of poetry, photography or design.
“SANE and their Black Dog Campaign has my fullest possible support. What they are doing is wonderful and important.” Stephen Fry
This campaign uses one of Grunig and Hunt’s ‘4 models’ of public relations practice which is a well-known theory within the media.
The model used for SANE charity’s campaign is the public information model. It is predominately one-way communication which features press releases, brochures, and static web content. These tools educate the public and helps to create awareness of a very sensitive subject.
To see an overview of the campaigns vision, aims, and objectives click on the following link: sane-black-dog-campaign-strategy-and-overview-2014