May 20th, 2021, marks the inaugural Mental Health Action Day created by MTV Entertainment Group. Mental Health Action Day (MHAD) is a movement that rallies organizations, icons, thought leaders, and governments to stand together and shift the narrative on mental health. MTV Entertainment Group is boldly leading the campaign to get the word out that mental health is health.
Maxwell Zorick, the Director of Social Impact at MTV Entertainment Group, sat down with Mooditude to discuss how MTV is taking leadership in changing our cultural perspective to one of open awareness and action. Mental Health Action Day is only the beginning of a campaign that will shift how popular culture views and treats mental health. Continue reading to learn how MTV is pioneering mental health portrayal in media and how they plan to change the entertainment industry.
Mooditude: Mental Health Action Day falls within Mental Health Month. What does your Action Day initiative add to this conversation that was missing?
MTV: We created Mental Health Action Day to move people from awareness to action. We know that the pandemic has created new issues for millions and exacerbated challenges for millions more. However, many of these people don't know what tangible actions they can take for themselves or their loved ones.
In a moment when the economy is beginning to re-open after a year of a once-in-a-generation pandemic, the global community of nonprofits, companies, government agencies, and influencers, need to support people in taking the first action for their mental health. No one brand or organization can do that alone – so MTV Entertainment Group has brought together more than 1000 organizations to put a spotlight on action taking.
Mooditude: How is MTV celebrating MHAD? What can we look forward to on May 20th in terms of social engagement and community involvement?
MTV: MTV Entertainment Group's new multi-year campaign 'Mental Health Is Health' will feature content including PSAs, direct-to-camera talent takeovers, stand-alone franchise clips highlighting mental health stories, and a social media cleanse that will offer positive posts, hosted meditations, and calming live streams across MTV Entertainment's nine brand accounts: MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Paramount Network, Logo, TV Land, CMT, Smithsonian, and Pop.
Mooditude: MTV has played a pivotal role in shaping the cultural perspective for many teens and young adults. How do you see the role of the media in changing the cultural perspective on mental health?
MTV: We’re currently in a transformative moment, where major media companies are acknowledging the powerful role storytelling can play in addressing mental health challenges. Earlier this year, MTV Entertainment Group launched “Mental Health is Health,” an initiative rooted in the reality that we all have mental health and need to take care of it like we do our physical health. The initiative aims to normalize conversation, create a connection to resources, and inspire action on mental health.
In tandem with this effort, a coalition of major media companies and mental health experts, convened by MTV Entertainment Group, have come together to create the Mental Health Storytelling Coalition to transform mental health representation in entertainment and help change the national narrative.
Mooditude: Does MTV have any plans for programming in the future that focuses on themes of mental health awareness?
MTV: In the short term, the Mental Health Storytelling Coalition kicked off this collaboration at the Mental Health Storytelling Summit the first week of May, during which a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind Mental Health Media Guide was released for entertainment industry professionals. But our efforts won’t stop there. Moving the needle toward better mental health representation broadly and more support for all requires a constant industry-wide, all-hands-on-deck approach.
MTV Entertainment Group alone is committed to: doubling and diversifying mental health storylines in our programming; using a “do no harm” framework in all mental health portrayals, and telling rich stories across the mental health continuum that bring diverse mental health experiences to life -- all to inspire our audiences to take action to support mental health. You can expect to see even more from this coalition moving forward.
Mooditude: MTV has rallied many enthusiastic organizations; what’s the vision for them to continue to support your initiative?
MTV: You can expect to see actions from organizations and leaders nationwide aimed at supporting anyone and everyone in taking their first action to get help, from organizations reaching out to their employees with resources on how to support mental health to events featuring experts and activists focused on taking that first action toward getting help.
Mooditude: What will Mental Health Action Day look like in the next 5 years?
MTV: This year will just be the beginning. Depending on what our partners want to do in the future, we’ll plan to build on a successful Mental Health Action Day this year with further action in the future.
Mooditude: Many of our readers are also interested in mental health advocacy. How can our readers who want to support you be a part of Mental Health Action Day?
MTV: Anyone can participate! Individuals, businesses, government agencies, and organizations can get involved by lifting up mental health resources, advocating for the need for more resources and access, and inspiring people to take action to support themselves and others. There are always actions you can take to help yourself or support others. Join us at mentalhealthactionday.org to learn more.
Mooditude is honored to partner with MTV Entertainment Group to commemorate their first ever National Mental Health Action Day. Mooditude thanks Maxwell Zorick and MTV Entertainment Group for sharing their powerful initiative with us. We encourage everybody to join us and take one action towards improving your mental health on May 20th, Mental Health Action Day.