CAMH shows how it is keeping its promise

In a follow-up to last year's suicide prevention campaign, the foundation is highlighting the discoveries resulting from its work.


As it was developing an extension to last year’s suicide prevention campaign, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) knew it had a promise to keep.

“Last year, we went out and we made this huge promise. We told the world that we could prevent suicide and we’re going to prevent it. Now we have to make good on that promise and, in fact, we are making good,” explains Sarah Chamberlin, VP of marketing and donor experience with the CAMH Foundation. “We wanted to show the work that is happening that’s very tangible and impacting patients’ lives.”

Last year’s campaign, “Not Suicide. Not Today,” focused on the theme of time – with one spot focused on spreading hope about potential treatments and changes in the way society perceives mental illness and suicidal ideation, while the other presented the statistics surrounding suicide to make it a more urgent issue.

This iteration of the campaign, which is again launching on National Suicide Prevention Day and was also developed by Camp Jefferson, is called “Today” and carries a more hopeful message about the inroads researchers have been making in treatment.

In a pair of spots, it highlights some of the work CAMH and other researchers have been doing, with one spot focused on the incorporation of traditional Indigenous practices from experts in those communities into the treatment of Indigenous patients, while the other touches on a breakthrough in PTSD research: a peptide that can not only cure, but prevent the condition. The spots will air nationally until Jan. 2.

Additional creative – much of which is being shared on a CAMH microsite – highlights other breakthroughs, including supplements that prevent postpartum depression and molecules that can reverse memory loss.

CAMH - TSA3Many of those will also be featured during CAMH’s “Today Week,” a week-long awareness push from Sept. 13 through 17, in which it will highlight a different area of mental health research in segments on Your Morning, CHUM 104.5 and CP24. Those segments will be supported by OOH, social and print materials.

“There’s incredible work happening at CAMH and discoveries being made in real time in all of these areas, and people are asking us to tell them about that work,” says Chamberlin. “They want to know someone is doing the work, and we are world leaders in these areas.”

“Sometimes it can be hard to bring research to life, but in the case of CAMH, they have so many unique and tangible examples that just capture peoples’ imaginations,” says Ian Barr, SVP and director of strategy at Camp Jefferson. “All of these [breakthroughs] have a human interest factor that makes people want to explore deeper, and when you get to the site, you can learn about the discovery and also see real stories of people it’s helped.”

While a primary goal of the campaign is to encourage Canadians to support CAMH – it has previously raised the issue of underfunding and fundraising remains vital to its operations – Chamberlin says there’s also an underlying element of “stigma-busting,” and that there is hope “Today” will get people talking, as last year’s campaign did, about suicide and how to prevent it.

The campaign also incorporates a number of tools and resources for those who are having or may know somebody – a loved one or friend – who is having suicidal ideation.

“Every time we go out to market, we have a dual focus of asking for people to help and giving them help,” says Chamberlin. “That’s the table stakes. Anything that we do has to be helpful.”