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Call for ad funding to target ageing, isolation issues

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Mental health advocates have called on the Federal Government to fund wellbeing advertisements to break down stigma around ageing and isolation.

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Adelaide Advertising and Design Club president James Rickard wants the Federal Government to spend at least $37 million every year, for the next 20 years, on advertising around mental health issues.

Rickard told an AdMental forum on Wednesday that it was a small sum given that addressing mental health issues costs the nation around $60 billion a year.

“We know advertising can make a difference. Mental health needs advertising and we have hundreds of individuals and companies with the expertise, experience and energy to make it happen,” he said.

“I don’t think enough is being done in this sector, in advertising and promoting mental health to the community, and it deserves to be so.”

Rickard’s comments were part of the AdMental competition, which was inspired by the popular ABC television show ‘The Gruen Transfer’ looking at how advertising and marketing works.

A mental health initiative run by the Don Dunstan Foundation, AdMental is part of an ongoing objective to improve the wellbeing of South Australians.

In its third year, two “emerging creatives” were selected to develop advertisements aiming to tackle ageism and isolation.

“It’s an area a lot of people in South Australia are thinking about,” said Don Dunstan Foundation executive director David Pearson.

“We have high levels of ageing in South Australia. There’s been a lot of priority placed by different governments on the ageing-well agenda, because if it’s not affecting you directly it’s affecting you through your parents or your grandparents,” he said.

“And it’s something everyone is concerned about, making sure our older people can age well as they grow older and remain connected to society.”

Tackling isolation was a key area of discussion.

“There is no doubt that loneliness is dangerous,” said Council of the Ageing chief executive Jane Mussared.

“It is as dangerous as smoking, it is as dangerous as obesity, it is as dangerous as addictions.”

“Loneliness is very associated with disadvantage: The less money we have, the older we are, the more health issues that we might have, the more likely we are to be lonely.

“The issue for us as we age is that disadvantage compounds through our life course. It compounds so by the time we’re older that disadvantage is very pronounced and very profound and very hard to fight back from. So, we have to tackle disadvantage.

“No one wants the ageing we inherited from our parents and grandparents. It’s not attractive, no one’s aspiring for it.

“We have to start thinking about old as embracing this enormous variety, and resist this temptation to get really fixed on chronology or traditional life courses.”

Taking home the evening’s main prize Peter Ferris said he hoped his advertisement would instigate ageism discussions.

“People have a very hard, serious view of the elderly but they’re no different to people from any other age,” he said.

“While I don’t think we should proscribe what people do in retirement, I think it would be great for people to think more about it.”

The advertisements, which were screened at the Bonython Hall at the University of Adelaide on Wednesday night, will be shared across social media outlets, shown at the Media Resource Centre’s ‘Seniors on Screen’ event and on an AdMental YouTube channel.

However, Pearson says he would like to see the Federal Government investing in nation-wide advertisements aiming to change attitudes towards issues of mental health.

“Ultimately we would love, through doing these AdMental events for governments to take up an advertising campaign. To use the incredible talent that we have in our creative industries in South Australia and use that to change attitudes,” he said.

‘So, whilst we’ll share these…we think governments should be commissioning public awareness campaigns to talk about these issues.”

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