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MTV Tees Up 200 Businesses, Non-Profits For Inaugural Mental Health Action Day

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As America’s mental health crisis spirals and pounds particularly hard on Black and BIPOC communities, and members of Gen Z, more than 200 businesses and nonprofits are uniting for the inaugural Mental Health Action Day on Thursday, May 20. Their focus is on the word action.

“It’s clear that as Covid-19 upended our daily lives, mental health struggles have skyrocketed but help-seeking and action for mental health has not kept pace. We need to move beyond awareness and into mental health action,” says Brianna Cayo Cotter, a SVP at MTV Entertainment Group, which spearheaded the open-source initiative.

“Whether that action is for yourself, for a loved one or you’re advocating for systemic changes to remove stigma around mental health, individual action looks different for everyone,” she adds. “Each partner will do their own activation that most speaks to their audience, what motivates them and what kind of actions they need access to.”

Corporate partners include Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., Chipotle Mexican Grill
CMG
, Kenneth Cole, NBCUniversal, Morgan Stanley, Office Depot
ODP
, Snap Inc
SNAP
., ViacomCBS, Uber
UBER
and Univision. AARP, Color of Change, Communities in Schools, GLAAD, MusiCares, Special Olympics and United Way Worldwide are among partners, as are Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty and Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation. 

Cotter says what started as an internal conversation at MTV Entertainment Group—which comprises MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, Smithsonian Channel, Pop TV, CMT, VH1, TV Land and Logo—about ways to elevate action among its primary audience quickly spiraled to a much broader effort that’s come together in a just a few weeks.

“When we first started, we were focused on young people and BIPOC people because that’s our audience. But we realized we really needed to create a day that was as big and wide as possible,” she says. “Everybody needs mental health action right now, but we are aware mental health issues disproportionately impact some communities—BIPOC, LGBTQ, and Gen Z—so we’ve been very intentional about bringing in partners that connect with those communities and can and amplify focus on them because that’s where the most acute mental health issues are being faced right now.”

A recent survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 63% of 18- to-24-year-olds reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, with 25% reporting increased substance use to deal with stress and 25% saying they’d seriously considered suicide. Despite some reckoning associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, BIPOC populations are reeling amid the continued murders of unarmed Black people and a spike in hate crimes against Asian-Americans, among other tragedies.

“By joining forces with this powerful coalition, we will continue to build awareness among potential allies, turning energy around racial justice into real policy,” says Rashad Robinson, president of online racial justice organization Color of Change. “A major part of mental health is ensuring that those in power are creating a safe and equitable world for Black people by means such as divesting from racist policing, and investing in communities and mental health services. Color Of Change, alongside our millions of members, will continue to demand the physical and mental protection Black people need not only to survive, but become powerful in our communities, as the devastating effects of Covid-19 continue to disproportionately affect and threaten our livelihoods.”

“The past year has shown us the value of mental resilience, and the necessity of putting an end to the stigma around mental health and widening access to mental health services,” says Arianna Huffington, Thrive Global founder and CEO. “Mental Health Action Day will help spur the culture shift we need on mental health and well-being.”

“Providing resources and information about mental health, especially in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, is critical for our community,” says Ron Estrada, Univision SVP, head of government relations and corporate social responsibility. “We commend MTV for providing this platform and all those joining us in participating in the Mental Health Action Day to help young Latinos take the first step toward improving their mental wellbeing.”  

“People with intellectual disabilities are among the most marginalized and excluded people worldwide. Over the last year, Special Olympics athletes have experienced acute loneliness, anxiety and stress due to their competitions being cancelled and the social isolation due to Covid-19,” notes Mary Davis, CEO of Special Olympics. “We are thrilled to partner with MTV in their first Mental Health Action Day, where they are putting a spotlight on the need for providing critical resources and information to promote emotional well-being and mental health.”

Cotter says collaborations among partners are already under way. AARP is working to elevate action around the mental health struggles caregivers face. YouTube is teaming with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to provide training to people who create content on their platform.

Many of the larger corporate partners are focusing not only on their consumers and audiences, but internally as well. “They’re thinking about, How do we activate our employees? How do we make more mental health resources available to them and encourage them to take action? There is a subcommittee of the big brands involved,” Cotter says.

“When Selena Gomez launched Rare Beauty, she wanted to make sure a clear purpose was at the center of her brand. That purpose has always been addressing mental health, which has had a profound impact on our founder’s life,” says Elyse Cohen, VP of social impact & inclusion. “Supporting the mental health of our community, employees, and partners is core to everything we do. We are thrilled to participate in Mental Health Action Day and shine a national spotlight on this issue.”

Notes former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, founder of The Kennedy Forum: “It’s time to break down the barriers to care and support. There is no health without mental health. Through advocacy, policy, education and partnership, The Kennedy Forum stands ready to make a difference. On Mental Health Action Day, let’s start a new conversation in this country—one that shines a spotlight on self-care, compassion for others, and better access to quality, evidence-based treatment that puts people on the path to recovery.”  

One thing that will not be part of Mental Health Action Day is a televised special. Cotter says MTV has “a lot of other programming around mental health that will be playing throughout the year,” but aims to go far beyond traditional content and public service announcements.

“For many years mental health awareness has been largely about PSAs. Which are great and drive the conversation,” she says. “But this moves far beyond PSAs and is going to be looking holistically across these different platforms where young people are. For example, what does Mental Health Action Day look like on TikTok?”

Here’s a complete list of Mental Health Action Day partners at press time:

  • 320 Changes Direction
  • AARP
  • Active Minds 
  • AIM Youth Mental Health
  • AIR – Attitudes In Reverse
  • Aliento 
  • Alma
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 
  • AmeriCorps
  • batyr
  • Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc.
  • BET
  • BetterUp
  • Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky Initiative
  • Born This Way Foundation 
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America
  • Bravo Sierra
  • Bring Change to Mind 
  • Charity Bomb
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • Cities Thrive Coalition
  • City of Kindness
  • CivicGeorgia
  • Clinton Foundation
  • Clubhouse International 
  • CMT
  • Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE)
  • Color Of Change
  • Comedy Central
  • Comedy Gives Back
  • Communities In Schools
  • Compass Coffee 
  • Complex Networks 
  • Cope Notes
  • Crisis Text Line
  • CURA Strategies
  • Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services
  • DoSomething.org
  • Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes’ Foundation
  • Drumming for Your Life Institute
  • Empathy Rocks
  • Empire Vets
  • End Rape On Campus 
  • Entertainment Industries Council, Inc. (EIC) 
  • Eventbrite
    EB
  • EVERFI 
  • Falkora Mental Health and Neutrotech Initiative
  • FaZe Clan
  • Feeding America
  • Fender Musical Instruments Corporation
  • Find Your Anchor 
  • First Responders First 
  • Fountain House 
  • FourBlock
  • General Assembly
  • Generation S.O.S. 
  • GI Go Fund 
  • GIPHY 
  • Give an Hour
  • GLAAD
  • Grit Digital Health 
  • Gympass
  • #HalfTheStory
  • HeadCount
  • Headspace
  • Health Action Alliance 
  • Hilinski’s Hope
  • Hillel International
  • Hines Foundation
  • Home Base
  • Hope For The Day
  • Hopelab 
  • Inseparable
  • International Mental Health Association (IMHA)
  • It’s On Us 
  • JED Foundation
  • JobPath Partners 
  • Joyful Heart Foundation 
  • JV Agency
  • Kate Spade New York
  • Kenneth Cole 
  • LogoTV
  • Long Island Alzheimer’s Dementia Center  
  • Love is Louder
  • Mad Tasty
  • March for Our Lives
  • MedCircle
  • Mental Health America
  • #MentalHealthPH
  • Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI)
  • Morgan Stanley
    MS
  • Movember
  • MTV
  • Musack
  • MusiCares
  • Muslim Advocates
  • Muslim Public Affairs Council
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  • NAMI Westside Los Angeles
  • National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
  • National Alliance for Hispanic Health
  • National Safety Council
  • NBCUniversal 
  • Never Alone Mental Health & Suicide Prevention
  • NEXUS
  • NM Impact Ltd.
  • NoStigmas
  • Notes for needs
  • NowMattersNow.org
  • NowThis
  • Number Story
  • Office Depot
  • On Our Sleeves
  • One Love Foundation
  • One Mind
  • Operation Homefront
  • Overtown Youth Center
  • Painted Brain
  • Panorama Global
  • Paramount Pictures 
  • Paramount Network
  • Pause+ Expand
  • Peer Health Exchange
  • Penske Media Corporation
  • Plant People
  • Poder Latinx
  • Pop TV
  • Project Healthy Minds
  • Psych Hub
  • Puffco
  • Punk Rock Food Drive
  • Queens Gaming Collective
  • Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez 
  • Reddit
  • Represent Justice
  • RespectAbility 
  • Rise Above The Disorder
  • Rock to Recovery
  • Saint City Culinary Foundation
  • Sana Benefits
  • Sanvello Health
  • Shatterproof 
  • Showtime
  • Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance
  • Smithsonian Channel 
  • Snap Inc.
  • Songs That Saved My Life
  • Sound Mind Live
  • Special Olympics, Inc. 
  • Storyline Partners
  • Stronger Than Stigma
  • Student Veterans of America 
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • Taskeen Health Initiative 
  • Teen Line 
  • The Ad Council 
  • The Chopra Foundation
  • The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  • The Kennedy Forum 
  • The Lewis Prize for Music
  • The Mental Health Coalition 
  • The National Council for Behavioral Health 
  • The People Concern
  • The Trevor Project 
  • The Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health
  • Therapists in Tech
  • Therapy for Black Girls
  • theSkimm
  • THIRA Health 
  • Thrive Global
  • TimelyMD 
  • TIME’S UP Foundation
  • To Write Love on Her Arms
  • Too Small To Fail
  • Trans Lifeline 
  • TV Land
  • Two Chairs
  • Uber 
  • UNICEF
  • United Nations Verified
  • Unite The United
  • United Suicide Survivors International
  • United Way Worldwide
  • Univision Communications Inc.
  • VHI
  • ViacomCBS
  • ViacomCBS Veterans Network 
  • Vibrant Emotional Health
  • Vice Media Group 

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