On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 children and six adult staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Before driving to the school, Lanza shot and killed his mother Nancy at their home. As first responders arrived at the school, he committed suicide.
While most people with mental illness are not violent, the incidence of gun-related tragedies—and the Newtown massacre in particular—prompted a public outcry and referendum on how mental illness is addressed in our country, especially among teens and young adults—the age when three-fourths of mental health disorders manifest.
In early 2013, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) President and former Senator Gordon Smith gathered at the White House with industry colleagues to talk about what they could do to help in the aftermath of the Newtown tragedy. NAB committed to using the power of its broadcast megaphone to educate Americans on mental health by developing a public service announcement (PSA) campaign to encourage more in-depth conversations about mental health in schools, the workplace, and among families and friends.
To accomplish this national feat, the NAB outlined 2 core objectives:
- Raise awareness of and reduce the stigma around mental illness in America, particularly among 13-24 year olds.
- Create a social media space for teens and young adults that facilitates active sharing and support for peers struggling with mental illness.
Live from Capitol Hill
On July 23, 2013, the signature campaign, OK2TALK was launched at an event on Capitol Hill.
NAB utilized human interest stories and unscripted testimonials in television and radio PSAs to create an emotional connection and relevance among their young audience. These testimonials were then amplified though a collaboration with partners including NAB’s vast member network, the White House and other government agencies, mental health advocacy organizations, and teen-focused brands and platforms.
OK2TALK.org, a Tumblr-based platform was also launched simultaneously as a community where young people struggling with mental health problems can share in a welcoming and safe way.
The Nine television (five English, four Spanish) and four radio (two English, two Spanish) spots delivered against the creative concept “What do you want to be?” This resulted in a combined 293k airings in more than 200 markets with a reach of over 1 billion.
The White House also reblogged the OK2TALK television PSA on its official Tumblr page in January 2014 – reinforcing NAB’s national effort to raise awareness of and reduce stigma around mental illness in America.
- Combined airings amount to more than $35.5 million in free airtime for the campaign.
- CBS devoted 18 primetime slots to air the PSA in August 2013; the Detroit NBC affiliate committed to air the spots 150,000 times per month through December 2013.
- Channel One, an in-school news program broadcast to nearly 5 million youths across the country is airing the PSAs during the 2013-4 school year. AOL.com featured OK2TALK as the “Cause of the Day” on September 3rd; visited by more than 12 million people daily.
- In late 2013, Chiara de Blasio, daughter of New York Mayor de Blasio, created a video supporting OK2TALK, receiving more than 1,000,000 YouTube views and coverage on CNN.
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