One year since the first lockdown was announced on 23rd March 2020, a year of missed life events, furloughs and social isolation, CALM (a charity leading a movement against suicide) and comedian and actress Rosie Jones, are calling on the Unicode Consortium to add a new emoji into circulation. The aim is to help users take the first steps towards telling a friend or loved one that they are struggling with their mental wellbeing or simply ‘feel like crap’, in an easy to use, non-intimidating and accessible way, before things get too overwhelming. CALM and ambassador Rosie both believe that sometimes to talk about the heavy stuff you need to start with a lighter moment and emojis are the perfect place to start.
“I am proud to be the CALM ambassador for this emoji campaign. It’s been a tough year for everyone and I have certainly had times when I have been low, and felt isolated from my friends and family. This emoji is a great way to tell loved ones that things aren’t great. It’s an easy and simple way to reach out for help and start the conversation.”Rosie Jones
In the first week of lockdown this time last year, the charity saw a 40% increase in demand for their helpline services compared to pre covid levels. Since lockdown they have answered 123,075 calls and web chats – that’s a call for help answered every 56 seconds. As we progress through the (for many) confusing and stressful roadmap to lockdown easing, the charity argues a new emoji to communicate feeling ‘crap, low, overwhelmed or broken’ is more necessary than ever.
CALM researched current emojis and where the gaps are, surveying over 2,000 people for their thoughts. Only 13% of people surveyed believe there is currently an emoji that helps them express when they are struggling with their mental wellbeing, and 51% of people surveyed agreed that an emoji designed to express a concern with mental wellbeing would be useful in starting a conversation
Taking action, CALM has re-designed an existing emoji for a new purpose and submitted it for consideration with the Unicode Consortium. The iconic ‘Pile of Poo’ emoji, previously (according to Emojipedia) used to represent ‘silliness’, has been re-imagined as the ‘unhappy Pile of Poo’ – finally giving emoji users a simple image to convey that they’re feeling low if they’re struggling to find the words.
According to CALM’s head of helpline:
“Callers to the CALM helpline often begin with ‘I’m not sure what to say’. Starting a conversation about struggling with your mental wellbeing or going through a tough time is not easy and many of us don’t have the tools to have this kind of chat. A bit like staring at a blank page when you go to write an essay, people struggle to kick off the conversation. Once they start talking it becomes easier but having those first few words to begin with is a hurdle.”.
CALM’s solution is to create this new emoji to help users broach the subject, an idea that Emoji expert Dr Philip Sergeant agrees with. He commented: “Emojis are an excellent way of expressing emotion online – in fact, this is one of the main reasons for their huge success. And although the popular image of them is upbeat and perhaps even a little bit frivolous, they’re used for all sorts of important, often serious situations. So they can be a perfect way to quickly and easily highlight how you’re feeling, and reach out to those around you.”
To support the campaign by sharing the Unhappy Pile of Poo emoji image on social media channels, tagging @theCALMzone on twitter, TheCALMzone on Facebook @calmzone on Instagram (where you can also post the image via Giphy) using the #feellikecrap hashtag.
“Over the last 12 months, people have needed CALM and our services more than ever before. We know that lockdown has been incredibly tough and that easing restrictions comes with its own difficulties. This campaign aims to make sure we’re that here for people of all ages, helping them take those first tricky steps to tell a friend, family member or us at CALM that they are struggling. CALM is here for anyone who needs help, and our free and confidential helpline and webchat are open seven days a week from 5 pm-midnight. If anyone is struggling and would like some help, visit thecalmzone.net for ways to support yourself and others”.CALM CEO Simon Gunning
The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a Movement Against ?S?uicide — offering life-saving services, provoking national conversation and bringing people together to empower everyone to reject living miserably and stand together against suicide. On average,125 people in the UK take their own lives every week, with 75% of all suicide in the UK being male. CALM runs a free and anonymous helpline and webchat service from 5 pm to midnight 365 days a year. Since lockdown they have answered 123,075 calls and web chats – that’s a call for help answered every 56 seconds. Alongside this life-saving service, CALM aims to create more action across society against suicide through multi-award winning campaigns like Project 84, which succeeded in getting millions talking and the government appointing the UK’s (and world’s) first Minister for Suicide Prevention. CALM also brings people together with collective action around interest points like running, football and art to drive cultural change and empower communities to better support the mental health and wellbeing of themselves and those around them.