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TVOKids tackles mental health with new special

Produced with Riverbank Pictures, How Do You Feel? connects kid callers with a counselor and gives them a chance to share how they're feeling.
May 5, 2021

Canadian pubcaster TVOKids is rolling out a new special to support kids who may be feeling burned out by the pandemic.

Airing on May 6, How Do You Feel? is a 15-minute call-in segment that invites kids to share their feelings with That TVOKids Show‘s host Laura Commisso. Callers will have a chance to talk with a counselor from youth helpline Kids Help Phone, and discuss what they’re grateful for. It’s aimed at five- to nine-year-olds.

TVO is producing the special with Canadian prodco Riverbank Pictures, which inspired the project with its mental health series How Do You Feel? (21 x seven minutes) that premiered on TVOKids in November.

The pre-taped special is part of the Canadian pubcaster’s initiative to spotlight children’s mental health. After a year of several lockdowns, kids are eager to see content that reflects their lives and helps them express their emotions, says Marney Malabar, TVO’s director of children’s programming.

“Too often, children are overlooked when we talk about mental health,” says Malabar. “The reality is that they can experience emotions more strongly than adults do, and in some cases, they have a greater need for support because they are still learning to process those emotions and have yet to find answers to their biggest questions.”

May 3 to 9 marks Mental Health Week in Canada, and to complement the special, TVO will also roll out online content such as short videos teaching kids how to look after their mental health and encouraging them to create moments of mindfulness. There is also a new online forum on the TVOKids website where kids can share how they’re feeling and note what they’re thankful for. The new content is meant to support kids who are dealing with everything from additional lockdowns, to at-home learning, to being separated from their friends—on top of the regular stress they face in their everyday lives, says Malabar.

COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of supporting youth mental health, and TVOKids is among a number of media companies launching mindfulness offerings to help them deal with their anxieties. Some of this new business focuses on meditation; as just one recent example, GoNoodle teamed up with audio entertainment system tonies on a new mindfulness device last month.

TVOKids plans to continue rolling out new content so kids have a safe space where they can open up and discuss how they’re doing, says Malabar.

“We hear more and more from our audience about the sadness, loneliness and anger they are feeling,” says Malabar. “What excites me the most is the opportunity to give our audience a voice, and also to provide some coping strategies as the stresses in young children’s lives are greater than ever right now. “

About The Author
Online writer for Kidscreen. Ryan covers tech, talent and general kids entertainment news, with a passion for kids rap content and video games. Have a story that's of interest to Kidscreen readers? Contact Ryan at rtuchow@brunico.com

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