As more and more research points to a widening scope of mental health challenges among kids in the wake of the pandemic, Sesame Workshop is stepping up with a wide-ranging suite of new content to help them out.
Audio plays a central role in the campaign, including a four-episode podcast in partnership with Dr. Laurie Santos, host of The Happiness Lab. A one-off special episode will launch this spring, followed by a three-ep series later this fall. The audio package will teach “happiness strategies” for kids and families, including advice from Sesame Workshop execs Steve Youngwood (CEO) and Kay Wilson Stallings (EVP and chief production & creative development officer). The nonprofit company is also working on a second season of its Goodnight, World! podcast with Headspace later this summer, focusing on helping kids with bedtime/naptime routines.
On the publishing side of things, Sesame has signed a deal with Mayo Clinic Press Kids to launch a series of emotional well-being books in fall 2024. The titles are designed to teach young readers how to care for both body and mind, with tips about dealing with anxiety.
To kick the campaign off, Sesame launched a short film called Elmo’s Mindfulness Spectacular (pictured) on YouTube today. This 45-minute special centers around Elmo learning techniques to cope with his big feelings as he embarks on a “mindfulness” journey with Abby. The popular Muppets are also featured with Big Bird in a new PSA from Sound It Out, which is a mental health campaign run by the US Ad Council.
Sesame also plans to launch The Big Feelings Special as part of Takalani Sesame, the South African version of Sesame Street. The special, which similarly focuses on the topic of dealing with big feelings for co-viewing audiences, will air this month on SABC 2.
Meanwhile, on the official Sesame Workshop website, the company has launched a suite of bilingual mental health resources for families, including videos, a digital storybook, printable activity sheets, articles and webinars.
The campaign’s launch is timed to align with Mental Health Awareness Month, which takes place annually in May.