THE 14TH ANNUAL SHORTY AWARDS

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Special Project

Special Project NEW!

Selena Gomez & FLOTUS Champion Mental Health Activists

Entered in Mental Health

Objective

During Mental Health Awareness Month in May 2022, MTV Entertainment Group, along with 18 leading mental health nonprofits and in coordination with the Biden-Harris Administration, launched the first-ever Mental Health Youth Action Forum to empower young people and drive culture from awareness to action in addressing the ongoing mental health crisis. The Forum culminated in an event at the White House in Washington, D.C, for which MTV brought together First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, pop star and Rare Impact Fund founder Selena Gomez, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and a panel of youth activists to discuss the pressing issues facing young people and to chart a path forward.

MTV News’s on-the-ground coverage of the Forum centered on highlighting the voices of the youth participants to shine a light on the next generation of mental health activists and the crucial work they do every day. It resulted in a digital video feature including interviews with the activists, key highlights from the Forum, and an interview with Selena Gomez, expertly hosted by award-winning MTV News Correspondent and MTV’s True Life Crime star Dometi Pongo. The project acted as holistic reporting on a major event and an impassioned plea for the world and its leaders to take the beliefs of young people into account when addressing the issues that affect them.

Strategy

May 2022 was Mental Health Awareness Month, and this year, it was especially important to shine a light on the issues affecting Americans’ mental health and encourage our leaders to address them. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a decline in the mental health of young Americans, so much so that the rising suicide and depression rates prompted Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy to declare an “urgent public health crisis.”

That’s why the MTV Entertainment Group, along with 18 leading mental health nonprofits and in coordination with the Biden-Harris Administration, launched the first-ever Mental Health Youth Action Forum to empower young people and drive culture from awareness to action in addressing the ongoing mental health crisis. The Forum culminated in an event at the White House in Washington, D.C, for which MTV brought together First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, pop star and Rare Impact Fund founder Selena Gomez, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and a panel of youth activists to discuss the pressing issues facing young people and to chart a path forward.

The event was covered widely by media outlets and network television, most of which focused on its celebrity angle. But MTV News, with its unique lens on youth culture, centered its on-the-ground coverage on highlighting the voices of the youth participants—including Jorge Alvarez, Mahmoud Khedr, Adia Fadaei, Jazmine Wildcat, and Carla Ibarra—and the crucial work they do every day. It resulted in a digital video feature including interviews with the activists, key highlights from the Forum, an interview with Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and an interview with Selena Gomez, expertly hosted by award-winning MTV News correspondent and MTV’s True Life Crime star Dometi Pongo.

This novel, people-first approach uncovered important insights not found in other coverage of this historic event, like this sentiment from Ibarra: “As a transgender immigrant from the Philippines, we never really have much representation, especially in the highest seats of power here in the United States,” she said. “I hope it’s just a start and not the last thing that we’ll be seeing faces and voices of people who look and speak like me.” Gomez herself shared the impact hearing these activists’ stories has had on her efforts. “More than anything, I just felt eager to do more,” she told Pongo. “I think I’m doing some stuff, and then I see all these wonderful people doing more, abundantly, for their own space. It’s just so beautiful.”

While young people are deeply affected by the mental health crisis, they are rarely granted a meaningful platform for their ideas to tackle the epidemic. When it comes to mental health, young people are often talked about rather than consulted directly. This Forum gave activists a chance to present their ideas to top media and technology executives, and MTV News was on hand to honor and uplift the diverse perspectives expressed during this culture-shifting event. In turn, we hope to encourage our viewers to continue the conversation about mental health and inspire innovative solutions.

Results

The Mental Health Youth Action Forum set out with the intention to shift the culture around mental health from awareness to action by leveraging the power of storytelling. Though mental health has historically been clouded by stigma, this event normalized these sometimes difficult conversations from the highest seats of power in the United States. The Forum was covered in media outlets nationwide, from People magazine to CBS News. MTV News’s coverage of the event was a successful standout because it offered a deeper look at the youth activists, rather than simply focusing on the celebrity voices. MTV News brought their voices to millions of people with over 4 million views across MTV News's social media platforms.

Media

Video for Selena Gomez & FLOTUS Champion Mental Health Activists

Entrant Company / Organization Name

MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks

Link

Entry Credits