West Ham and England footballer Declan Rice stars in a campaign for suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) aimed at tackling loneliness, as more than three million people in the UK suffer from feeling lonely.
The Invisible Opponent 2 film is the heart of a new campaign that shows Rice battling invisible opponents. As a full crowd looks on, the haunting struggle looks like the player may be fighting themselves. Relief finally comes at the end as a hand extends to help him from the ground with CALM’s powerful message appearing on screen ‘You don’t have to be alone to feel alone’, followed by a rallying cry #TackleItTogether. The ad is a metaphor for people’s mental health struggles and the sense of isolation that comes from tackling them alone.
The campaign goes live as the CALM helpline is answering more calls around loneliness than anything else, and three million people in the UK say they feel lonely. That’s enough people to fill Wembley 33 times over. And according to research conducted by YouGov, young people are the loneliest age group in the UK, with 30% of 18–24-year-olds saying they felt lonely in the past week.
Rice, who is starring for the Three Lions in his first World Cup, joined CALM as its newest ambassador earlier this month and aims to raise awareness and challenge the stigma around mental health and suicide. Off the pitch, he’s set a goal to get more people talking and looking out for their friends and loved ones at a time when more people than ever are turning to CALM’s helpline and webchat services for support.
Declan Rice commenting on the campaign, said: “Everyone suffers at different times in their life, and there are so many people out there who feel like there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel – but all it takes is a conversation. It’s about having that support network and having people you can speak to. Because no matter who you are or what you’re going through, it should be easy to speak to the people you love. Just one conversation can make a positive difference.”
Simon Gunning, CEO of Campaign Against Living Miserably, said: “Anyone can feel lonely, no matter your age, gender or background. But everyone experiences that feeling in different ways. You can feel alone when you’re with your friends, or you can feel it by yourself. Big life changes can trigger it or have no specific trigger at all.”
“How and where you feel alone doesn’t change the fact that it can be tough to deal with those feelings, and often people feel too ashamed to talk about it. That’s why we need to tackle it together. And show people, however, you feel right now, you’re never alone. There’s always someone on your side and CALM is always here.”
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