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After Elmo’s ‘trauma dump’ check-in, ‘Sesame Street’ goes all-in on mental health

Remember when Elmo broke everyone simply by asking how people were doing on X? The viral check-in prompted a flood of responses in which people poured their hearts out onto the beloved Sesame Street character, and the wave of woes was so great all the other Sesame Street friends chimed in with their own words of support.

There’s a reason Elmo’s check-in hit people so hard. There’s something viscerally comforting in the familiar faces and voices of our favorite childhood characters. Over 50-plus years creating high-quality shows for kids, Sesame Workshop has gained and retained people’s trust and confidence, so engaging with Sesame Street characters feels safe and cathartic.

The folks behind Sesame Street have always incorporated kids’ feelings and emotions into it educational programming, but a new initiative is taking a direct approach to mental health awareness. Teaming up with Huntsman Mental Health Institute, Sesame Workshop and the Ad Council have launched the “Love, Your Mind” campaign with a kid-friendly PSA.

It begins with Elmo humming a familiar tune, the “Sunny Days” theme song from Sesame Street, before his friends join in. Then Elmo explains how humming is a good strategy for managing big feelings. Watch:

It may seem simple, but Dr. Amanda Fujiki, an expert in child and adolescent psychiatry, Huntsman Mental Health Institute, tells Upworthy that humming can be “a calming experience for the brain that can give kids a pause from intense emotions and feelings.”

“Humming is one of many coping activities that help kids identify and regulate emotions,” says Dr. Fujiki. “Humming, deep breathing, engaging kids with their senses by listening to music, touching a cold item, like ice, or engaging in brief intense exercise, are all mindfulness based practices that can help kids take a pause to identify and regulate their emotions.”

“There is research to show that mindfulness practices have positive influences for children and adults,” she continues. “For example, studies show that mindful practices can reduce anxiety, depression, and improve physical health in children. By engaging in developmentally appropriate media focused on emotions, parents can offer young children opportunities to engage in dialogue where they can teach emotional literacy and validate big emotions when they come up by referencing examples, like Elmo.”

The “Love, Your Mind” campaign comes at a crucial time as young people face an epidemic of mental health struggles. Feelings of persistent sadness and hopelessness were rising rapidly even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Since 2020, it’s been clear that we need more resources to help youth manage their mental well-being.

“The growing mental health crisis is one of the most pressing issues for parents today and children’s needs can so often be overlooked,” said Samantha Maltin, EVP, Chief Marketing & Brand Officer, Sesame Workshop. “We know that caring for a child means supporting their whole circle of care, whether that’s parents, teachers or other caregivers. We’re grateful for our partnership with the Ad Council and ‘Love, Your Mind’ campaign through which we can reach even more children and caregivers with these emotional well-being resources.”

The Ad Council announced a Mental Health Initiative in November of 2022 to unite brands, marketers, media companies and nonprofits in addressing the mental health crisis for people of all ages throughout the U.S. “We all have a role to play when it comes to supporting and destigmatizing mental health, and parents and caregivers are an important part of that equation,” said Heidi Arthur, Chief Campaign Development Officer at the Ad Council.

Parents and caregivers can find more resources to support children’s emotional well-being, from managing big feelings to coping with more acute mental health challenges, at sesame.org/mentalhealth and follow Sesame Workshop on Instagram, X, Facebook, and TikTok for more.

Source: Upworthy
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