The pandemic has taken its toll on mental health of kids and teenagers—and parents need to know the warning signs, before something catastrophic happens.
That's the message of a new series of PSAs from Sandy Hook Promise and BBDO New York. Rather than graphically focusing on gun violence and school shootings, as in previous work such as 2019's "Back to school essentials" and 2016's "Evan," the new work takes a different tack. With a focus on prevention, it depicts, via a series of images and short vignettes, how a year of stress and trauma has given rise to various forms of youth violence, including suicide and self-harm as well as potential gun violence.
One spot, for example, is titled "How to make a homemade bomb" and chillingly shows how a combination of lockdown, isolation, canceled futures, social media and anxiety can lead a child to "detonate." Another spot compares kids' inner meltdowns and constantly being "plugged in" to overloaded circuits, while a third demonstrates how a child could perform a "disappearing act" as they detach from friends, family and school and ultimately, from their own head. All the spots, which were directed by Jakob Marky of Sweetshop, end with the tagline "The Kids Are Not Alright."
According to Sandy Hook Promise, more than 70% of teenagers are now struggling with mental health concerns in the wake of the pandemic, and one in four has considered suicide. The campaign aims to encourage parents to learn the signs of a child in distress and act before it's too late.
"Teenagers are in crisis right now and most people aren’t even aware of it. So we wanted to spark the conversation and raise awareness about the signs of distress and how Sandy Hook Promise can help these kids overcome them,” said Peter Alsante, senior creative director, BBDO New York in a statement.
The campaign debuted on ABC’s "Good Morning America" today (May 13) and will run on social and digital. PR efforts are being led by Dini von Mueffling Communications.