the real elephant in the room with ford

To mark World Mental Health Day today, a new initiative is being piloted with the help of acclaimed dirty van artist, Ruddy Muddy and his reverse graffiti dirty van art. Continuing the messaging from the nationwide advert that screened in April, the art brings to life the image of an elephant stuck inside a transit van, urging drivers to address the mental health stigma, the real elephant in the room.

In the same way that ‘clean me’ messages are often written onto vans, the van art aims to capture the attention of drivers on the road who would not otherwise come across mental health awareness education.

This compliments the national campaign, launched by Time to Change that encourages people to ‘Ask Twice’ if they suspect a friend, family member, or colleague might be struggling with their mental health. The campaign says the simple act of asking again, with interest, shows a genuine willingness to talk and listen.

Here are the spokespeople involved in the campaign;

Jo Loughran, Director at Time to Change

Jo has over a decade of involvement in the UK charity sector, specialising in behaviour change campaigns, mental health anti-stigma programmes, and lived experience leadership, particularly in relation to young people. She leads all of Time to Change’s work in England.

It’s really important to us that we change how people think and act towards those of us experiencing mental health problems. Mental health problems can affect anyone and they can be hard to discuss. Our latest research shows that when asked how we are, three quarters of us will say ‘I’m fine’ even if we’re struggling with our mental health. This World Mental Health Day, we’re encouraging everybody to ask twice. Asking twice – “Are you sure you’re ok?” – means people are much more likely to open up in conversation. We’re proud to be working alongside Ford on their dirty van art campaign. The van, featuring elephant artwork, will go out on the road to all its usual customers and encourage people to address ‘the elephant in the room,’ helping more people to feel comfortable seeking the support they need for their mental health.


Matt Loynes, one of the Employee Champions

A Ford employee who has overcome mental health problems and is open to talking about his experiences. He is now on a mission to encourage other Ford employees to speak more openly about mental health

Mental health is something that everyone has, be it good or bad. Since the Ford Campaign began, I’ve seen an increasing number of shoulder to shoulder conversations amongst my colleagues and management. It’s great that the van art speaks to people who may not know where to look for help. I’m proud to continue to spread mental health awareness far and wide, be it on the TV or on the road.


Ruddy Muddy

Acclaimed, van artist who creates powerful images and messages using reverse graffiti on dirty vans

When the mental health campaign was first mentioned  I knew I wanted to be on board. Poor mental health has touched both friends and family and I have seen first hand what a profound impact it can have. A chance to do something that increases the awareness of talking and understanding mental health was an extremely interesting idea. If it can help just one person then it is a very important muddy van…


 The stats:

Ford 2018 Research reveals…..

  • Over a third (36%) of Brits would prefer to open up about their emotions to a friend
  • Over one in ten (11%) would feel most comfortable opening up about their emotions in a car
  • Over half (56%) of Brits have had an important emotional conversation whilst in a car
  • (60%) believe that the benefits of having an important conversation in the car is having an enclosed space, having a captive audience (28%), having little eye contact with your conversational partner  (17%) and being able to leave the conversation in the car (19%).
  • Over half (53%) of Brits feel embarrassed or awkward talking to someone about an issue they have been experiencing


Time to Change 2018 research reveals:

  • New research released by the mental health anti-stigma campaign, Time to Change, reveals that when asked, over three quarters (78%) of us would tell friends and family we are ‘fine’, even if struggling with a mental health problem
  • The national survey of over 2,000 people highlights that asking ‘How are you?’ can often prompt no more than a meaningless exchange. To tackle this, Time to Change is urging people to ‘Ask Twice’ if they suspect a friend, family member, or colleague might be struggling with their mental health
  • A survey administered weekly, recruiting 100 UK adults per week showed that 3 months after the April campaign, 42% of adults felt more likely to ask a friend for help


Tips from Time to Change on how to support a friend who does open up:

  • Take it seriously, don’t judge
  • Actively listen – ask open questions, summarise to show you’ve listened and reflect.
  • Remember you don’t have to fix it
  • A simple “that sounds difficult” can show you care


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