The pandemic took a MAJOR hit on Gen Z’s mental health, with the American Psychological Association reporting that youth were facing “unprecedented” levels of uncertainty throughout 2020, as well as higher levels of stress and symptoms of depression compared to other groups. Teens, specifically, had been thrown for a loop, facing worldwide school shutdowns, canceled rites of passage such as graduation and prom, and isolation from their friends. With early March bringing the unofficial “anniversary” of the pandemic as well as Hollister’s World Teen Mental Wellness Day, which was founded by the brand in 2020 to remove the stigmas surrounding preventative mental health, Hollister set out with two big goals: raise awareness about the importance of teen mental health, and DISRUPT THE STIGMA associated with talking about mental health and wellness within virtual high schools nationwide.
Hollister teamed up with TikTok stars and social media celebrities Dixie D’Amelio, Rebecca Black, Maggie Thurmon (@maggiethurmon), Jack Wright (@jack.wright), Zahra (@muslimthicc) and mental wellness podcast Teenager Therapy to take over remotde high schools in the U.S. with an online pop-up mental wellness discussion. These sessions were held on March 2, which is Hollister’s World Teen Mental Wellness Day.
Leading up to the sessions, Hollister launched a social media campaign to spur conversation about mental wellness in a historically toxic place: the social media comment section. Hollister influencers hit TikTok and Instagram to raise awareness and flip the comment section on its head, filling it with impactful stories and everyday mental wellness tips from real teens.
The sessions themselves took the conversation LIVE, with the TikTokers talking candidly about their own struggles and answering questions from real teens. These sessions allowed teens to be able to see their heroes in a new, more raw light - showing them that they aren’t alone, and that having these open conversations with friends, family and counselors can be life-changing.
Our favorite quotes from the sessions:
"For a lot of children of immigrants, our parents struggled so much to build the lives we have, that there’s this mentality that if they were able to do that without feeling sad or dealing with issues, you should “get over it.” That’s a dangerous narrative. Your feelings are valid… know that you’re not alone.” ZAHRA
“People think your support system needs to be close friends or family. But it can be a coach, a teacher, etc… just reach out!” JACK WRIGHT
“(Opening up) is hard…but pushing past that is important, because there are people that need to hear what you have to say. Sharing your story can help others!” DIXIE D’AMELIO
“I love therapy! It’s not super accessible for everyone, and it can be hard to find your way in that world. But if you have an opportunity to talk to someone who can understand what you're going through, do it. It’s been really amazing for me.” REBECCA BLACK
For those unable to attend, Hollister and Teenager Therapy launched “Disrupt the Stigma,” a mini video series focused on mental health. Hollister also granted $1 million to 20 non-profit groups and projects focused on areas that support teens, including mental health, through the Hollister Confidence Project.
The team was thrilled with the results. The social media videos and live sessions were unscripted and real, creating an intimate environment that not only allowed our TikTok stars to open up and be vulnerable - but also enabled teens to feel comfortable asking questions about a topic that can be incredibly hard to talk about. The raw conversations themselves were huge markers of success for our team, but the numbers also greatly exceeded expectations:
The campaign drove 19 million impressions on social media across organic brand & influencer content, scaling our message and spurring conversations far beyond the session It drove headlines, amplifying the message even further in key media outlets, which accounted for a reach of 26 million. Coverage appeared in WWD, Pop Sugar, E! News, TooFab, and more 200 high school students around the country attended the live online sessions with our TikTokers Despite the sensitivity of the topic, we saw incredibly supportive comments, productive conversations, and positive sentiment across social posts and in session like:
“Thank you for using your platform to talk about mental health!! It really means a lot” “I am still dealing with anxiety and depression from time to time. Love to create awareness <3 “ As well as great tips from teens: “Have a creative outlet! Speaking out can be hard, so find a creative way to express yourself” “Exercise or reading really helps me” “Meditation helps A LOT”
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