Mental Health Awareness Month: Why Kids are the Key for a Mentally Healthier World

By: Holly Brochmann

Mental health is a topic I’m always eager to discuss, so when my colleagues at HBI offered me May’s blog post in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I jumped at the chance to share my thoughts.

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to mental health. The good news is that awareness of its importance has increased exponentially, and a willingness to talk about it and seek treatment has subsequently increased. The bad news is that its severity and prevalence has likewise skyrocketed, resulting in some pretty horrific statistics in the areas of suicide and gun violence, for example.

Like most large-scale issues, there’s no quick fix and the solution is a complex, multi-faceted one. For instance, we need to increase (significantly) the number of bilingual mental health providers in this country to correspond with the rapid growth of the Hispanic population. A shoutout to HBI client Ser Familia, who’s dedicated to this very issue. We also need to expand awareness and access to resources among low-income populations. And, I think our country needs to launch a campaign specifically targeting boys and men – a campaign that negates the age-old notion that men are supposed to be “tough” and that sensitivity or displays of emotion are considered weak. As a result, many men avoid opening up about their feelings and are resistant to seeking help. I recently lost a male friend to depression so this one in particular has been resonating with me.

However, I believe the best solution is a long term one that will play out for future generations. It’s fairly simple, really. START EARLY. Like most things, such as a new language or a sport, the earlier in life you begin to learn, the better. The brain is like a muscle in that it needs conditioning and practice. Healthy habits that are developed during childhood are much more likely to transition into adulthood and continue throughout life, and it’s no different with mental health. Children should be taught to nurture their mental health, even beginning as young as three or four. They can learn to identify difficult feelings, normalize them, and learn coping skills and techniques to carry them through the rough patches. Luckily, this effort is already underway as many educators are placing emphasis on social emotional learning programs in the schools, and parents and caregivers now have access to numerous children’s books and influencers on social media who offer advice on the topic.

The goal here is not to eradicate anxiety, depression or other forms of mental illness – that would be ideal, but unrealistic (if not impossible). The goal, instead, is to recognize mental health as a vital component of wellbeing, remove the stigma and shame surrounding mental health struggles, and encourage a willingness to embrace coping options, whether it be deep breathing, meditation, opening up to a trusted friend, therapy, and when necessary, medication. If we can teach kids to care about and how to care for their mental health, they’ll grow into teens and adults already equipped with the tools that can safely and effectively take them through emotionally turbulent times. Then those adults will in turn carry on the tradition with the next generation of children and so forth. Hopefully, the ultimate result is a mentally healthier, more stable, and overall HAPPIER society.

Note from HBI: In addition to serving as our Senior Account Director, Holly is the author of A Feel Better Book for Little Kids children’s series that helps little kids manage their big feelings. The books are published by the American Psychological Association’s Magination Press, are available in multiple languages, and can be found anywhere books are sold.

Connecting with your Audience – Breaking the meta barrier

By: David Tetley

Public Relations and brand psychology have come a long way since their start. Small businesses and corporations have always strived to come up with new ways to relate to the public and stand out from their competitors. With the internet and social media being massively widespread, any company has a potential to advertise itself in front of another’s brand. Every business is fighting for its clients’ attention, making it harder to turn customers into loyal ones. The market has evolved and so have the consumers. So how do companies follow along?

Younger audiences are a favorite of advertisers. But today’s young people are less naïve towards advertisements and typically know when they are being sold more quickly than kids from different generations. With so many options and brands to choose, young consumers usually are more attracted to brands that they feel represent them in one way or another. That could be values like authenticity, a movement or even what is trending at the moment. What is popular will always be attractive, but there is a reason that something goes viral in the first place. There is research that suggests brand loyalty can be acquired if a company supports their potential customers’ views. Nike’s stock increased 5% back in 2018 by taking a stance with Colin Kaepernick against racism and donating $40 million to social justice organizations. It is a double-edged sword because of the risks that come with picking a side, but being catchy alone does not cut it anymore.

Views that brands support do not have to be political. Thanks to vast range of topics with large passionate audiences on the internet, ads can focus on very specific niches that are not controversial. Although young people might be harder to influence through traditional advertisements, many companies found a way to connect to the core of new audiences through social media. There are two reasons for that. The first, the newest generations, generation Z and Alpha, were born into a time where the internet was a pillar of their social life. Naturally, the amount of time they spend there is higher than any other age group. The second reason is because of companies are making ads inside the content they watch, instead of ads that will instantly drive many of them away. Instead of having an ad interrupt a video, story or TikTok, influencers add a new layer of marketing where they can advertise to their viewers a product that is most likely appropriate to the influencer’s niche audience in an entertaining way.

Influencer marketing, if done right, can break through the barrier to build brand resonance between young consumers and a brand or product. A small influencer can have a deeper connection with their followers than a large company’s expensive marketing efforts. Many big brands have opted to target their potential consumer via Snapchat and TikTok influencers paid ads because they know how inexpensive and effective it can be. Small to medium influencers can charge around $250 per ad and have it reach thousands of people that fit the product’s niche.

Social media doesn’t only facilitate connection with youth through targeted niches, it also pressures large corporations to act on important social issues. Being aware of what other brands and sponsors stand for is more important than ever. Soon, having a logo with a movement’s flag is not going to be enough. Fundraisers and charity events are becoming more prevalent by the day. Take Giving Tuesday, which is Nov. 29. It’s only been around for a decade, but its importance has grown significantly.