World Mental Health Day is being spotlighted by two public service initiatives by HBO and Comedy Central, both designed to bring awareness to the health condition and remove the stigma of seeking treatment.
Comedy Central, in partnership with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), a program of the National Council for Behavioral Health, today premiered its Be The Difference public service announcement (PSA) featuring Jeff Ross, Matteo Lane and Yamaneika Saunders.
The spot is the initial step in Comedy Central’s first long-term social impact campaign that will focus on driving culture change on mental health. Working with its launch partners, Comedy Central will integrate the campaign across all brand platforms, including linear series, social content and live events, with the goal of making emotional health as important as physical health.
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The Be The Difference PSA begins airing today on Comedy Central’s linear channel and will air throughout the month of October.
In addition to the PSA, Comedy Central employees will be signing up for Mental Health First Aid at Work, which teaches participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of a mental health issue. This is a step in Comedy Central’s commitment to creating comedic content for the Be the Difference social impact campaign that aims to educate and raise awareness about mental health issues.
“Mental illness affects everyone, including the funniest people you know. None of us are immune from experiencing a mental health crisis or from helping someone we care about in a crisis,” said Erika Soto Lamb, Comedy Central VP of social impact. “Comedy Central drives the cultural conversation by revealing the funny truth about whatever is happening in life. Through comedy we have the power to change the way people think and act and we will work diligently as a brand moving forward in order to drive mental health culture change.”
Also using its platform to raise awareness around mental health is HBO, which has introduced It’s OK, an initiative that aims to destigmatize mental illness and encourage conversation around mental health issues. HBO will highlight a diversity of characters seen throughout the networks’ series whose stories can help to normalize the conversation. The network has created Mental Health Awareness Bumpers and short form content to run on HBO’s platforms beginning today in conjunction with World Mental Health Day.
HBO’s bumpers will let viewers know what mental health issues are depicted in select episodes. The network partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), an HBO partner since 2016, on the creation of the bumpers, and they will debut in select episodes of HBO’s Barry, Euphoria, Girls, The Sopranos, Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh, Boy Interrupted, Chris Gethard: Career Suicide, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press One, Diagnosis Bipolar: Five Families Search for Answers, I Love You Now Die, In Treatment, Kurt Cobain Montage of Heck, Risky Drinking, and The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling Part 1 & 2. Each bumper will contain a call to action for those who seek help at 1.833.HBO.NAMI or to visit NAMI.org.
“HBO has always been at the forefront of telling stories featuring complex characters, some of whom deal with mental illness, from The Sopranos to Euphoria, encouraging more conversation around the different facets of mental health,” says HBO’s VP of brand & product marketing, Jason Mulderig. “We are not saying ‘viewer discretion is advised.’ We are saying ‘viewer conversation is encouraged.’”
In Doctor Commentaries, relevant scenes from HBO shows that focus on mental health issues will be discussed by clinical psychologist and mental health champion, Dr. Ali Mattu, who will share his insights from a mental health perspective. “It’s easy to overlook symptoms of mental illness and examples of mental health when we’re watching a show,” explains Dr. Ali Mattu. “There’s so much we can learn within certain scenes of these selected shows and we hope the commentaries give viewers a new perspective on mental health.” The series will debut with an episode featuring Girls on October 10th. Each commentary will live on social (YouTube) & HBO.com.
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