SANE – Black Dog Campaign (Depression)

“The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2030 depression will be the world’s most disabling condition, above cancer and AIDS. One in five people will experience depression at some point in their lives, and it underscores most mental illness. Suprisingly, we still do not know what causes the condition and therefore treatments and therapies vary.

2011 marks a significant milestone in SANE’s history – our 25th anniversary. Our focus, as ever, remains very firmly dedicated toward helping anyone affected by mental illness.

SANE has launched the Black Dog campaign to increase awareness and understanding of depression and other mental illness, to stimulate research, bring about more effective treatments, and encourage people to seek help.

The Black Dog has been used as a metaphor for depression from antiquity to the present day. To bring the campaign to life we have designed visually striking Black Dog statues (soon to be unveiled).  The physical presence of a Black Dog will help people to define their experience of the ‘invisible’ condition, which characterises mental illness, as well as promoting more open discussion, understanding and acceptance. In order to deliver a positive message of support, the black dogs will have a ‘collar of hope’ and wear ‘coats’ designed by celebrities, artists and members of the public.”

What a great campaign to raise awareness about depression! It sounds like it’s got a good number of high profile supporters too. The concept I should imagine was drawn from the success of the Cow Parade, as this campaign uses an iconic dog statue to raise awareness of an important issue.

I would personally tend not to use the phrase ‘mental illness’ quite so much – I think ‘mental health problem’ is a more constructive and less stigmatising concept to be discussing. After all, perhaps some of those ‘one in five people’ may be more familiar with dealing with a kind of greyish dog rather than a black dog.

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