HBO mental health campaign uses moments from The Sopranos and Girls to say ‘It’s OK’

HBO is pulling out scenes from some of its most popular shows, such as The Sopranos, Girls and Barry, to raise awareness around mental health issues in conjunction with World Mental Health Day.

The initiative ‘It’s OK’ aims to destigmatize mental illness and encourage conversation around mental health issues. HBO will highlight a diverse set of characters seen throughout its series whose stories may help to normalize the conversation.

The network partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), an HBO partner since 2016, to create mental health awareness bumpers and short-form content that will run on its platforms beginning today (10 October).

Spots 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, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling Part 1 & 2.

Each bumper will contain a call to action for those who seek help: either to call 1.833.HBO.NAMI or to visit NAMI.org.

An awareness anthem spot shows snippets of different characters and their mental health challenges, such as Tony Soprano talking with his therapist, and Girls' Hannah Horvath struggling with her OCD.

The campaign was created in collaboration with Wieden+Kennedy New York.

“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 and product marketing, Jason Mulderig.

“We are not saying ‘viewer discretion is advised.’ We are saying ‘viewer conversation is encouraged’.”

In a separate video series, dubbed ‘Doctor Commentaries’, relevant scenes from HBO shows that focus on mental health issues are discussed by clinical psychologist and mental health champion, Dr Ali Mattu, who shares 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 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.”

See the videos by clicking on the Creative Works box below.

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