04 March 2022
Interview with Jaime Melancia, president of PSOPortugal, IFPA´s Portugese member association about PSOFriends
PSOFriends is a web series that deals with topics relevant to young people with psoriatic disease. The series is simultaneously humorous, motivational, and educational. Jaime Melancia, president of PSOPortugal, explains that the series consist of seven episodes covering themes such as mental well-being, stress management, anxiety, self-esteem, comorbidities, sexual intimacy, and motherhood. The target audience for the series is young people, up to 30 years old.
The idea for this campaign, including the identification of the topics to approach, came from a study on youth’s behavior and on the impact of psoriasis in their lives. PSOPortugal conducted a study that made it possible to identify the inner (and most of the time also hidden) feelings behind copping with Psoriasis. The loneliness and having no friends with psoriasis to relate with, was a major conclusion. That provided the knowledge and also the insights to create the PSOFriends series, aiming to spread the message that they are not the "only case" and to address, within the script, all the doubts and topics that the youths mentioned during the study.
The tone of PSOFriends is humorous and informal. Jaime emphasizes how important it was to avoid a negative, overly serious tone in the series. The idea was not to watch characters – as he expressed it – “crying about the disease”. Instead, they chose a comedic approach because it was so highly requested on social media. PSOFriends conveys a message of hope and motivation. It is possible to live a great life with psoriatic disease. Good treatments and healthy habits are within grasp.
The cast includes six actors, all of whom live with psoriatic disease themselves, as does the scriptwriter. Apart from the six actors, several medical doctors and other specialists also make appearances in the series. These include a dermatologist, a rheumatologist, a psychologist, a nutritionist, a sexologist, and a sports coach. The specialists pop into the series when a question comes up, which they answer in an informative way.
The central character in the series is the owner of the coffee shop in which the series takes place. PSOFriends was inspired by the popular TV series Friends, which also largely takes place among a group of friends in their favorite coffee shop.
The series and the social media campaign has spread widely. So far, it has reached over 3 million viewers as well as over 78 thousand post interactions. Reactions have been very positive. Many viewers appreciated the light-hearted approach that allowed them to look at the serious subject with humor. Jaime plans to show the series in schools, for example in physical education classes with teenagers aged 16 to 17. That setting could be particularly opportune since many people with psoriatic disease struggle with showing themselves in dressing rooms.
When asked whether the series could be distributed in other countries, Jaime answers that it would be better to remake the series so that it fits with each country’s cultural, and local context. If another country would like to make a similar series, Jaime advises to go to a professional consultant company, something that he believes contributed to the success of the series. He also advises to deal with the subject carefully, to avoid misunderstandings.
PSOFriends’ unique approach to psoriatic disease subject matter is a success with young people across Portugal. IFPA’s members can take inspiration from PSOPortugal’s motivating example.