Dubai Science Park aims to wake people up from self-doubt in ‘Hostages of Depression’ campaign by Serviceplan ME
Posted on 2022 Feb,24  | By ArabAd's staff

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Depression, anxiety, hypersomnia or oversleeping: these are heavy issues to tackle in advertising. But as mental health starts to move slowly out of the shadows in the Middle East, more brands—as well as charities and foundations—are starting to address this sensitive topic in creative campaigns.

One of such is the recent print and outdoor campaign crafted by the team at Serviceplan Middle East who collaborated with Dubai Science Park and mental health clinic Thrive Wellbeing Centre to raise awareness on the subject and encourage people to seek help.

Due to the stigmas associated with mental health issues in the Middle East, over 66% of all cases go undiagnosed. 

Dubai Science Park, a community for healthcare businesses and professionals, briefed Serviceplan Middle East on the issues behind the campaign.

Reputed for fostering an environment that supports research, creativity, innovation, and passion, Dubai Science Park wants to act as a driver of change to influence public’s perception towards persons with mental health conditions. Their ultimate aim is to facilitate and steadily progress more conversation on this heavy issue.

Comprised of three beautifully crafted print ads, the campaign uses striking visuals juxtaposed with a thought-provoking tagline. 

The illustrations created by Jiawen Chen are designed to capture the pain and suffering experienced by many people going through mental health issues. Indeed, fear and the lack of understanding, coupled with stereotype knowledge, contribute to the issue of deep-seated stigma that this campaign seeks to uncover. The dominant green camouflaged- color strenghtens the idea that often depression symptoms are difficult to detect.

The insight the campaign was built on is that depression is not one’s fault. When symptoms of depression are left undiagnosed, they can dig the person deeper into self-doubt and push him/her further away from recovery. 

By using eye-catching imagery of diverse people in various mental state, the campaign successfully relayed the message that mental health issues don’t just affect one ‘type’ of person, and that help can be found.

The approach of Serviceplan Middle East was to inform people what they’re mistaking for flaws in themselves, could be symptoms of a common mental illness, hence to stop doubting themselves and know that it’s okay to seek help. They are also encouraging people to take the test specifically developed to diagnose depression symptoms.

The test was based on the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), an easy to use test that is a self-administered version of the PRIME-MD diagnostic instrument for common mental disorders. It helps identify the frequency and severity of depression symptoms and helps people determine if they need professional help. The PHQ-9 test is widely used to screen, diagnose, monitor, and measure depression.

Oussama Founi, Associate Creative Director, Serviceplan Middle East commented: “To visually represent how undiagnosed depression can incapacitate you, we created three unique and striking visuals. Illustrated by hand and then coloured digitally using hues that evoke an emotional response. The feeling of being stuck in a vicious cycle of self-doubt was metaphorically represented using a bed.”

Lack of public information and stigmatization of persons with depression are major barriers to care. Such creative campaigns will undoubtedly contribute to encouraging positive conversations around mental health.





Serviceplan Middle East: 

Chief Creative Officer: Akhilesh Bagri 

Worldwide Executive Creative Director, Serviceplan Group: Jason Romeyko

Creative Director: Saleh ElGhatit

Creative Director Ande Couto

Associate Creative Director: Oussama Founi

Associate Creative Director: Sameer Suri

Art Director: Oussama Founi

Art Director: Saaniya Abbas

English Copywriter: Sameer Suri

Arabic Copywriter: Rana Ahmed

Managing Partner: Rami Hmadeh

Managing Partner: Natalie Shardan

Managing Partner: Azhar Siddiqui

Client Servicing: Ramy Abdelrehim, Kathleen Angeles

International Communications Officer: Lee Sharrock



Charbel Jreijiri - General Manager 

Vishwa Mohan – Director, International Markets

Suprashv Adarsh Chopra – Digital Media Director 

Tareq Al Masri – Media Manager 


Caper Illustration

Illustrator: Jiawen Chen



Mawran Abdulaziz – Managing Director, Dubai Science Park

Reem Shaban – Executive Director, TECOM Group 

Saad Yusuf – Marketing Director, TECOM Group 

Amy El Askary – Marketing Manager, TECOM Group

Dr. Sarah Rasmi – Psychologist & Managing Director, Thrive Wellbeing Centre