It’s time we talk about mental health. Each year, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness, yet many don’t feel comfortable sharing their experience with others. In observance of Mental Health Awareness Month, iHeartMedia teamed up with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Child Mind Institute to kick off a multi-year campaign that will raise awareness of mental health and foster a culture within communities that supports talking about mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
The goal of iHeartMedia’s “Let’s Talk” campaign is to weave a virtual support system through iHeartMedia’s 850 stations across the U.S. for people struggling with anxiety and depression and to let them know they are not alone, while also encouraging the general population to check in on the people in their lives by starting a conversation around mental health.
Beginning May 1, 2019 through 2020, iHeartMedia will air a diverse series of PSAs that will educate the public on the general state of mental illness – such as the fact that over 350 million people in the U.S. of all ages are dealing with depression – and describe the signs and symptoms associated with the most common mental health concerns. Additionally, throughout the year, iHeartMedia’s on-air personalities will have open and organic discussions about their personal struggles with mental illness and provide reminders to listeners to take care of their mental well-being and help others who may be struggling.
All of the radio spots drive listeners to iHeartRadio.com/TALK where they will find curated resources published by NAMI and the Child Mind Institute, guides to starting the conversation with a friend, child or healthcare provider, a symptom checker and general information on mental health.
“Research shows that talking about mental illness has the power to reduce stigma and to make a suffering person feel less isolated,” said Jessica King, iHeartMedia’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “By activating iHeartMedia’s greatest assets – our listeners, personalities, artists, airwaves and digital platforms – we hope to change the course of this global epidemic and help normalize conversations around mental illness and encourage them to happen more regularly.”
The campaign is also intended to reach parents and educators and to help them identify and proactively address concerns that they may be facing with the kids in their lives. During the month of May, iHeartMedia is providing an extended platform for the Child Mind Institute’s digital campaign #MyYoungerSelf which asks celebrities what they would tell the younger version of themselves about mental health. Radio stations across the country will air 30 second audio clips of artists and celebrities, including Kristen Bell, Wayne Brady, Weezer, Pete Wentz, Charlamagne Tha God, Imagine Dragons and others, sharing heartfelt words of encouragement and advice around mental health. Listeners can also expect to hear more from celebrities who will divulge their own vulnerabilities to bring awareness to mental health issues as part of the “Let’s Talk” campaign in the coming months.
“What I would say as a kid who hated himself and was scared of everything and hid under the bed when it was time to go to school and was different and weird is to find something you really enjoy and work hard at it and know that you are not alone and you are not always going to feel that way,” said Scott Shriner of the band Weezer. “If I had known then how I would turn out now then I could have relaxed a little bit. You are not alone.”
“We are thrilled to be partnering with iHeartMedia to spread the word that mental health disorders are real, common and treatable, and that asking for help is the bravest thing young people can do,” said Child Mind Institute president Harold S. Koplewicz, MD. “Years ago most people suffered in silence with mental health disorders, and people didn’t want to believe that children and adolescents could be anxious or depressed. That’s changing now, and it is a real sign of the times that an organization like iHeartMedia thinks it is important to educate its audience and build awareness.”
“One in 5 of us is affected by mental illness in a given year, and half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. Early intervention can make a big difference and can save lives. People affected by mental illness often encounter stigma, or invisible barriers to acceptance and understanding. This is something we need to change, together,” said Katrina Gay, National Director of Strategic Partnerships at NAMI. “NAMI is thrilled to partner with iHeartMedia in our fight to end the stigma of mental illness through encouraged conversation, through education, increased awareness and social action.”