It’s OK: HBO Launches Initiative to Destigmatize Conversation Around Mental Health
Initiative will include bumpers and doctor commentaries surrounding mental health issues depicted in network’s series
In an effort to raise awareness around mental health, HBO will introduce 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 network’s series whose stories can help to normalize the conversation. The network will create Mental Health Awareness bumpers and short form content to run on HBO’s platforms beginning October 10th in conjunction with World Mental Health Day.
As of 2018, 1 in 5 (47.6M) adults(1) were living with some form of mental illness. Despite these numbers, most people are unsure, unwilling or simply afraid to talk about their struggles, which is why many misconceptions and stigmas around mental illnesses still exist today.
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 Illness (NAMI) and the local affiliate NAMI NYC on the creation of these 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 Parts 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 Vice President 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.
As part of HBO’s partnership with NAMI, the network will make Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh available on HBO.com and HBO’s YouTube channel for a limited time. The comedy special offers candid reflections on Gulman’s struggles with depression through stand-up and short documentary interludes that provide insight into his mental health journey.