Memac Ogilvy and Gems Education launch mental health initiative

The campaign sparked important conversations, showing vulnerability towards rejection, anxiety and belonging

Image Credit: GEMS Education

Memac Ogilvy Public Relations has partnered with GEMS Education to launch The Alternative Alphabet, a tool designed to help teens understand the complex language of mental health.

The campaign follows exclusive research by the pair that showed seven in ten teens won’t talk to peers about mental health. Moreover, 70 per cent of 4,500+ respondents believed more needs to be done to support teen wellbeing.

The team partnered with Dr. Sarah Rasmi’s Thrive Wellbeing Centre and set out to create a deeper understanding of mental health, providing teens with essential related skills, allowing them to better identify, define, and discuss the potential challenges they may face.

To do so, they invented The Alternative Alphabet, which matches 26 letters with 26 words related to mental health. The alphabet was then gamified, introducing 26 original characters, launched to thousands across GEMS schools in the UAE.

Image Credit: Memac Ogilvy

The engaging card game enables adolescents to navigate their own wellbeing and offer support to their peers, while involving parents, guardians, and educators in the process. The pack includes 25 action cards, an instructions manual, and cheat sheet. 

The campaign launched with an emotional and visually striking teaser film named The Mock Exam and was shot at GEMS American Academy Dubai. Following the release of the film, the partners unveiled the alphabet through an exclusive set of workshops where students were invited to play the game and provide feedback. The workshops were turned into a second film and launched on social media.

The team then turned the game digital, creating a dedicated space on the school’s website where it could be downloaded freely for play anywhere. 

The conversation went significantly further than the classroom, with exclusive coverage on prime TV news, radio, and editorial. The team then invited 26 influencers, media personalities, athletes, educators, entrepreneurs, and healthcare professionals to each own a word from the alphabet that resonated with them, creating 26 unique conversations on social media. 

Personalities from across the UAE sparked timely and important conversations under the hashtag #AlternativeAlphabet, showing vulnerability and openness towards subjects such as rejection, anxiety, tolerance, belonging, and others. 

The school has received a high volume of requests for the game, while discussion around integrating The Alternative Alphabet into the curriculum itself are ongoing. The 26 characters of the alphabet will continue to be used in the mission to increase knowledge and communication of mental health challenges in the future.