The new tool will empower people across the country to support friends and family who are struggling with their mental health

Today, Ogilvy UK and the mental health anti-stigma campaign, Time to Change debut a brand new platform to help people across the country support loved ones who are struggling with their mental health. Research suggests that most people want to be there for friends and family, but many are unsure how to start a conversation, or are scared of making things worse. The bot, called Charlie3000 (Charlie for short), will share simple tips and friendly reassurance to show that being there for someone isn’t as difficult as it seems.

The campaign’s first-ever chatbot serves as a reliable friend, helpful and positive, with the ability to provide assistance and advice. As well as sharing ideas from within the app, Charlie can also direct users to other mental health resources and organisations. Charlie, launching during Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, will be unveiled across social channels Facebook and Instagram, which will direct users to the Facebook platform.

The bot builds on the ‘Ask Twice’ campaign, which provided a call to action to people across the country to check in with their mates. Research shows 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. 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. The campaign says the simple act of asking again, with interest, shows a genuine willingness to talk and listen. The bot will support people with the ‘next step’ of the conversation – what to say when a friend does open up about how they really feel.

The bot, launching today, is available to everyone, whether they want to support someone in their lives or gain a better understanding of mental health.

Jo Loughran, Director of Time to Change, the mental health anti-stigma campaign run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness: “Through the Time to Change campaign, we've already reached millions of people and begun to improve attitudes and behaviour around mental health problems. Despite the progress we’ve made, we know that many people are still unsure of exactly how to support a friend who might be struggling with their mental health.

“Charlie is the next step in helping people feel equipped and comfortable to be there for a friend, and help direct them to the resources so no one feels like they have to face these challenges alone. We’re eager to see how the new chatbot will support people across the country.”

Shish Patel, ECD, Ogilvy UK: “How we interact and seek support has changed dramatically over the last few years, and how we help one another is evolving as well. The digital world can be an overwhelming place, and that’s why it’s so important to harness the positive tools we can create so people can be there for one another no matter where they are. ”

Alex Williamson, ECD, Social & Content, Ogilvy UK: “Everybody should be comfortable in supporting their friends, but when it comes to Mental Health we tread on egg shells. Can I really ask them about it? What if I make it worse? This campaign is designed to empower everyone who has a friend (hopefully 100% of the world) to know how to talk to a mate about mental health, because you never know when they might need help. Let's remove the stigma and talk more.”

The campaign can be seen across social channels starting this week, with the bot available for everyone. Ogilvy was appointed by Time to Change in September 2016, working with the charity on a five-year campaign to shift the attitudes toward mental health throughout England.