Mental health charity's alternative Christmas Advert shows ‘forgotten pandemic’ of 2020

By PH7 Wellbeing

04 Dec 2020

2020 was almost the year PH7 LIFE closed the doors.

‘When the COVID19 pandemic hit every penny of funding and events that had been secured were cancelled. Within a few months the future of our charity looked exceptionally bleak. Management had serious conversations about closing the doors for good.

The cancellation of funding hit us hard. What hit us harder was the fact we had to close our doors to people who truly needed our help, more than ever before. What unfolded over the initial months of COVID19 was heart breaking.’

Depression rates doubled. Calls to emergency helplines increased by 53% Almost 70% of people said they were ‘very worried’ 56% of people experienced ‘anxiety’ 1 in 5 people experienced suicidal thoughts.

Our Christmas Advert – ‘Don’t forget about me’

Whilst the big companies fight for the Christmas advert title, we thought we would step into the ring too. Our Christmas advert does not come with snowmen, happy carrots and singing mice. Our Christmas advert comes with one hard hitting message.

‘Don’t forget about me’.

The advert details the day in the life of Joshua Jason from Manchester. A real person, he has had a real journey and battle with his own mental health.

What you see in the video is the reality for so many people living and walking around us. You may not know it, but everyone can be fighting a battle. It is our duty to highlight that.

COVID19 has been devastating for millions of people, but please don’t forget about the people who are still struggling to live and survive with their mental health on a daily basis.

Our Christmas advert was created by award winning photographer and Director Alexander Beer, the 2019 national portrait of the year winner alongside Channel 4 ‘Ackley Bridge’ star Sam Retford as the ‘director of photography’.

‘I did this campaign as I feel the word mental health is still a taboo world that people do not like to really talk about.

It affects everyone in your lifetime, in a small way or a big way. No one is immune. People are talking about it slowly but not many are listening, I believe it’s time for that to change.

Even if this project stops 1 person taking their life and seeking help then this will be worthwhile. Depression and suicide rates in our country are not acceptable, and we need to take some responsibility for change to occur’.

Alexander Beer

‘Helping curate this project was an absolute privilege, it is an honour to be able to tell the stories that people need the most right now’

Sam Retford

The Work of PH7 LIFE

PH7 LIFE are a mental health charity based in Burnley, they provide a unique 4-week course that currently puts 86% of people into recovery from depression and anxiety. The course covers one to one private counselling therapy, group work to help understand the mind, education around behaviours, brain programming and transactional psychotherapy. It also includes advice and classes about healthy eating, the importance in nutrients for brain function, exercise, and yoga classes.

The people who are seen on the four-week course are often out of work due to their mental illness, they cannot function in a normal life, they often cannot leave their homes and have extreme social anxiety. They are severely mentally unwell, and this course helps them get back into work and lead a normal life once again.

We also provide:

Emergency one to one private counselling – which offers people 8 sessions and allows people to be seen within a week. Cutting out the 7-month NHS waiting list and easing the burden on public services. Free mental health awareness training – Giving the general public a higher education level in mental health, and providing them with a qualification for their CV through the CPCAB (counselling body)

Coming Back To LIFE

‘We knew there were two pandemics happening in 2020, and whilst we had no idea how our charity could survive, we refused to give up. It broke our hearts when we were forced to turn people away in the early days of COVID19, but we decided something had to change. We had to look at new ways of gaining funding, and we simply had to open our services back up. Too many people needed our help.

We applied for some small but emergency funding that saw us through the short term and in May 2020 we were able to open the doors once again. Whilst it went against some guidance, we fought back and said it was not possible to do our jobs effectively from home. NHS waiting lists were getting bigger, and people were not able to access the counselling support we could offer.

As someone who has experienced significant mental illness over many years, if there is one thing I know, when you need mental health help, you need it quickly. Letting people wait months, especially in a pandemic is not optional for me.

Our emergency counselling enabled people to be seen within 7 days and was offered to people who had lost loved ones through COVID, experienced significant hardship, had COVID themselves or they had lost their jobs.

We have just completed our first round of emergency support and put 82% of people into recovery.

The public were incredible in helping to support our work.’

Over 180 people attended our socially distanced ‘Massive Mental Walk’ in August. They walked 18.6 miles, because 186 people in Lancashire take their lives each year. Over £15,000 was raised. John Deehan and Scott Pickles walked up Pendle Hill over 26 times in 24 hours and raised over £6500. This support has been vital to helping our work continue, and we would not be here without the public’s help.

It costs:

£300 to put one person through a course of emergency counselling £125 to raise education levels and train a person in ‘mental health awareness’ £750 to put one person through the life-changing 4-week course.

For further comment or to see the work of PH7 LIFE:

This article was written by Group Operations Director, Rebecca Jane. Who can be credited for all quotes and for further comment, please contact direct:

[email protected] – www.ph7life.com

Churchill House, 60 Bank Parade, Burnley, Lancashire. BB11 1TS – 01282 479929

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