In today’s world, where mental health awareness seems greater than ever, animation is emerging as a transformative means to communicate mental health issues especially to children and young adults. Through social media and smartphones, animation provides an accessible route to education and insight. This is particularly beneficial for the 20% of people experiencing neurodiversity and the 15% with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), who may encounter additional challenges with traditional forms of communication.

Language need not be a barrier to understanding mental health; with customizable voiceovers (perhaps developed using the latest AI), animation allows for clarity across linguistic divides. This is especially vital when mental health services are overwhelmed, with extensive wait times for support. Animation’s quick production cycle offers a bridge, delivering crucial information swiftly to those in urgent need.

While creating an animation entails some initial investment, the ongoing cost is minimal. Afterall, digital distribution is free (no media space to buy), and small updates are inexpensive. This economic efficiency extends the reach of mental health education to a broad audience without the financial burden often associated with print materials.

Animations also serve repeatedly, they communicate effectively no matter the channel, platform or format they’re delivered on, instantly providing support and information for example to local support groups.

Still frames from animations give voice to those who struggle to express their mental health struggles verbally. These visuals can facilitate dialogue around complex issues, enabling especially children to point to an image that resonates with their experience, providing a starting point for addressing challenging subjects like trauma or abuse. They can also be resized for use as print based marketing collateral.

Through this visual language, animation opens multimodal pathways to understanding and healing, playing a pivotal role in the discourse around mental health.

So in essence, that’s why I’m an evangelist for animation within the healthcare sector. It’s a powerful ally, providing rapid, accessible, and inclusive pathways to understanding. It’s a tool that not only educates but also empowers, offering those affected by mental health challenges a voice when words alone may fail.

Benefits of animation

  • Animation is accessible, especially via social media, and completely free to air for people who require it (via mobile phones).
  • Animation can reach cohorts who struggle to read and write, eg those with a neurodivergence (20% of the population) and/or SEND (15% of the population).
  • Animation can be translated to reach people for whom English is not the first language.
  • Waiting times for CAMHS and community mental health services is typically months – from script to screen, an animation can be created in two weeks, making it ideal for ‘disaster’ work.
  • Animation voiceovers can be quickly translated and revoiced in any language at a rough cost of only £1000.
  • While the initial animation can cost about £10k, subsequent digital copies are completely free (unlike print). Small amendments to ‘end slates’ to, for example, localise helpline numbers cost very little, so one trauma video can be used 10,000 times nationally at pretty much no extra cost. • Animation works brilliantly across all social media channels so it’s instantly and freely accessible and provides a ‘language’ for the person and their caregivers to understand what’s going on.
  • Still images can be taken from the animation and used within other collateral. For example, a dozen still images can be laid out in front of a child, enabling them to choose which image from the animation spoke to them (a good way to introduce tricky subjects, eg sexual abuse).