Ad of the Day: animated characters embody mental health struggles of NHS workers

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, creative agency McCann Health London has collaborated with production company Jelly and Barcelona-based animation directors at Niceshit on an animated musical film inspired by stories from the healthcare front line.

‘The Feelings’ brings to life a cast of lovable characters, including ‘Power Less’, ‘Rising Dread’ and ‘Red Rage’, to communicate common thoughts and feelings that people working in healthcare often feel.

Supported by The Laura Hyde Foundation, the project aims to ensure that medical and emergency services personnel have access to the best mental health support available.

“Our healthcare and emergency services are still facing a pandemic to overcome. This time, it isn’t Covid-19 but the state of mental health and wellbeing of the workforce and we are yet to see the true effects of burnout, PTSD and many more conditions as a result of this testing time,” said Liam Barnes, trustee chair of The Laura Hyde Foundation.

“The topic of mental health specifically for healthcare workers remains riddled with stigma. Any outputs that can help remove this such as ‘The Feelings’ are welcome by the Laura Hyde Foundation and we encourage anyone who is struggling right now, worried about a colleague/friend/family member or needing help to improve wellbeing in your workplace to contact us.”

According to the charity, emergency services staff are over 40% more likely to be impacted by severe mental health issues and over 50% less likely to take up support. Sadly, the impact of Covid-19 has made this situation worse and put even more pressure on NHS workers and a greater strain on their mental wellbeing.

“The Covid-19 pandemic put our healthcare system – and the people who work within it – under pressure like never before,” added Guy Swimer, executive creative director at McCann Health London.

“As an agency whose sole focus is health, we understand the challenges they have faced while doing such vital work and we wanted to support front-line workers by creating sharable and memorable content for social platforms.”

The animation directors at Niceshit are known for their diverse and sensitive character work, exemplified in the design of the seven main characters in this film, and for their hybrid blend of design and animation techniques.

The larger-than-life memorable characters were crafted using brushes and hand-painted textures to add the humanity and sensitivity needed in treating this subject matter by the team at Niceshit.

On the approach, Niceshit commented: “Combining 3D environments with 2D characters is something that we love to explore and play with as we feel we get the best out of both techniques. By mixing these two worlds you get the beauty of lighting, 3D textures, and the use of camera movements combined with complete control of illustrating and animating the characters frame by frame.”

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