Wallace And Gromit makers and university academics launch mental health campaign

Megan Baynes, PA
·2-min read

The makers of Wallace And Gromit have joined forces with a group of academics to launch a new mental wellbeing campaign.

Award-winning independent studio Aardman Animations has worked with a team of academic researchers from three different universities to create the ‘What’s up with everyone campaign’, which features a series of films that look at mental health issues in young people.

Five animated characters deal with loneliness, perfectionism, competitiveness, independence, and social media – five of the most common issues negatively impacting young people, according to the campaign’s research.

Daniel Binns, animation director at Aardman Animations, said: “We wanted to create content that could come up on someone’s social media and elicit the response ‘I know that feeling’.

“We want people watching them to see a little of themselves in the characters and their stories and that be the start of thinking about how they feel or cope and how it could be better.

“What really sets this project apart is that it’s been co-created with young people at every step.

“Their input alongside those of our experts has been invaluable and enlightening, enabling us to craft authentic and effective resources that can make a genuinely positive impact.”

The partnership – which also involves the London School of Economics and Political Science, charity Happy Space, and young people’s mental health expert Dr Dominique Thompson – comes amid an increased focus on youth mental wellbeing.

An NHS survey from October 2020 found one in six children and young people had a probable mental health disorder in July 2020, compared with one in nine in 2017.

The Office for National Statistics also found that more than half of all students at university (57%) reported a worsening in their mental health and wellbeing since the start of the autumn term in 2020.

The collaborative project – informed by research commissioned and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and involving Loughborough University’s Storytelling Academy – will evaluate the impact of the series of animated stories.

The campaign was led by Professor of Health Humanities Paul Crawford at the University of Nottingham, with research teams at the University of Nottingham, Loughborough University, the London School of Economics and Political Science; young people’s mental health expert Dr Dominique Thompson; and with the Mental Health Foundation and mental wellbeing charity Happy Space.