Sandy Hook Promise’s new PSAs highlight mental health challenges faced by youth

The campaign is a slight deviation from past PSAs that focused solely on gun violence in schools.

NEWTOWN, CT: The kids are not alright. 

That’s the title of Sandy Hook Promise’s latest PSA campaign, which aims to bring awareness to mounting mental health challenges facing America's youth and teens after a year of social distancing, political unrest and a global health crisis. 

The campaign includes a series of three short videos with supercut stock-imagery and jarring audio, created to reflect the anxiety, isolation, pressure, boredom and information overload that teenagers are currently experiencing. 

"Alone with your thoughts is a dangerous place to be," one PSA ends. 

The campaign is a slight deviation from past Sandy Hook Promise PSAs that focused solely on gun violence in schools, but they still target the underlying stressors that cause violence, according to Dawn Lyons, VP of marketing and programs at Sandy Hook Promise. 

"Over the last year, we're still seeing a lot of tips coming through on what children are facing, including emotional distress, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts," Lyons said. "We really wanted to focus on this because we also know that sadly, a lot of these stresses can be precursors for what could later become tragedies." 

Dini von Mueffling Communications is the earned media lead on the campaign, while BBDO is the creative agency. 

The larger goal of the campaign is to ensure kids are receiving the care and interventions needed to avoid the epidemic of violence and mass school shootings that have plagued the country in recent years.

The campaign debuted Thursday morning on national media outlets such as Good Morning America, with a focus on reaching parents, according to Lyons.

"What we are hearing from the youth that we work with is that the adults aren't listening, and they don't really get it," she said. "So we are looking at parents first and foremost because we want them to be the ones stopped in their tracks to really understand and listen to their kids." 

Accompanying the PSAs is a legislative push to pass The STANDUP Act, a bipartisan bill designed to encourage states and tribes to implement and expand evidence-based suicide prevention training in schools.

The STANDUP Act has previously passed the House and has been introduced to the Senate. 

Sandy Hook Promise, which was founded after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 26 people dead including 20 school children, has launched other award-winning campaigns in the past. 

The first PSA from Sandy Hook Promise was Evan, a 2016 campaign that was a repeat winner at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity the following year. 

The most recent PSA was its 2019 "Back-to-School Essentials" ad, which won an Emmy for Outstanding Commercial. In the ad, students transform everyday school items into essentials for surviving a school shooting.

The PSAs have also been largely successful in encouraging viewers to sign up for Sandy Hook Promise’s Know the Signs workshops, which more than 12 million people nationally have participated in.

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