We met the young people behind the #TakeOffTheTape campaign

Image Credit: Paul Chisnall

Image Credit: Paul Chisnall

The #TakeOffTheTape campaign has been sweeping social media since it launched earlier this month. People have been sharing selfies of their biggest fear written across their tapped mouths. We wanted to know more about the campaign and how it came about.

Media agency MEC are behind the campaign #TakeOffTheTape for the mental health charity Mind. We chatted to Alexandra Lever and Paul Chisnall about how they got involved with the campaign and their career advice for people also wanting to make a difference.

1. How did you get involved with the campaign?

Paul: Mind are one of our selected charity partners here at MEC and as someone with close friends and family members with serious mental health problems I felt a strong personal connection with the organisation. When a competition was launched within MEC to come up with a creative campaign for Mind, we jumped at the chance. Luckily for us our idea was chosen and the campaign launched this year on March 7th.

Alexandra: Mind were our chosen charity at work last year and as well as raising money, we felt it was important to raise awareness. The stats were frightening;

  • 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any one year
  • A quarter of 18-34 year olds feel that showing their emotions is a sign of weakness
  • 4 in 5 of 18-34 year olds put on a brave face when they are anxious
  • Despite this one in five admitted to crying in the past week because of anxiety

As we are a media agency, they asked us if we had any ideas of how to help raise awareness particularly of how stress and anxiety can lead to serious mental health issues. So I worked on an idea with Paul and we pitched it to Mind and they gave us permission to launch it.

2. Where did the idea come from? Tell us what it’s all about!

Paul: Even though mental health has seen a great deal of coverage in recent times, research still shows that people find it hard to talk about the things that cause them stress and anxiety. Stigma prevents a lot of people from seeking help, particularly young people. Therefore the main problem we had to solve was to come up with an innovative programme that would change people’s behaviour and attitudes towards mental health.

Our approach was simple, we discussed the pain people go through when they are unable to speak out and quickly arrived at the classic image of a person with their mouth covered by piece of duct tape. We bought as many rolls of tape as we could from a DIY shop and began testing different ways the campaign could work.

The solution we settled on was a selfie campaign to be launched across the main social media channels. We felt that if people could write down a word that gives them stress or anxiety on a piece of tape, use it to cover their mouth and upload their selfie, then this act would serve as a symbolic gesture allowing each person to demonstrate how they are ready to fight stigma and face their worries head on.

Alexandra: It was the scale and the amount of people affected by mental health that spurred us to develop an awareness campaign for Mind. We realised that no one is immune to anxiety. Whatever your job, your age – there will be something you occasionally or constantly worry about. What was most important to us though was learning that anxiety and stress are classic gateway symptoms to mental health issues, which if not dealt with can worsen from a worry to something worse.

We felt writing a word to describe how you were really feeling for once, rather than the perfect perception we all are guilty of trying to constantly portray on social media was poignant. We tested the idea in the office and it was refreshing to see how many people started talking about how they really felt, and how many felt the need to try and empower others from seeing what had been written on their tape and give them a boost of confidence.

3. What have the results been so far?

Paul: The results have been fantastic we have had support through adverts in the Daily Star, NME, Glamour and some of the biggest outdoor locations in London, Manchester, Birmingham. It has also been covered by The Sun and Good House Keeping plus celebs like Ben Shires, Matt Johnson, Ian Royce & Mike Toolan have been keen to show their support. As a result the campaign has had over 3.5K posts on Instagram and Twitter alone using the hashtag #TakeOffTheTape.

The campaign is still going strong but the aim is to help a whole generation to change the way they perceive mental health our work is far from over. We still have a lot of work to do and are extremely dedicated to taking this campaign to the next level.

Alexandra: The results have been unbelievable. The campaign has grown organically and is really making a movement in the mental health sphere. We’ve been inundated with messages from people thanking us for bringing awareness and making them feel that this is a shared problem we all have. We can tackle stress and anxiety collectively so it doesn’t lead to mental health.

4. What’s your career advice for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps and do a similar project?

Paul: The opportunity to launch this campaign came from being adaptable and acquiring new skills. The main piece of advice we can give is to keep working on projects that exist outside of your comfort zone as this will allow you to grow both personally and professionally. We all live busy lives and it’s very easy to ignore opportunities when they present themselves, but every now and then something will come along and it’s up to you to make the best of it.

Alexandra: Go for it! The only career advice I’d have is there are different and exciting new sectors opening up all the time so it’s really important to immerse yourself in what truly interests you. My ultimate aim is to have a career that I live, breathe and love. Be open to challenging yourself and don’t be afraid of change – when you sense an opportunity, grab it! Everything and more is achievable, never take no for an answer, and give us a call if you ever need our help!

Get involved and share your own selfie with the hashtag #TakeOffTheTape. You can also check out Mind’s site here.