Hidden Healers is a first-of-its-kind digital video series that elevates, uplifts, and centers culturally grounded healing practices from BIPOC communities to show how healing can come from many unexpected places, including our own traditions and cultural practices. This campaign empowers young people from a diversity of backgrounds to embrace their own accessible and relevant hidden healing practices to help improve mental health among young people from historically marginalized communities of color.
The digital series was created in partnership with four young leaders (Ayanna Kelly, Kheira Bekkadja, Maddox Guerilla, and Mahmoud Khedr) who developed and pitched the idea at MTV Entertainment’s Mental Health Youth Action Forum in May 2022, which was hosted at the White House alongside actor and activist Selena Gomez, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.
There are eight videos in the series shedding light on hidden healing traditions from different communities:
Native’s People Heritage Month with James Jones-November 2022
Black History Month with Big Freedia-February 2023
Black History Month with Monaleo-February 2023
Women’s History Month with FLO-March 2023
Arab American Heritage Month with Anees- April 2023
Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month with Sherry Cola-May 2023
Caribbean American Heritage Month with Spice-June 2023
Latinx Heritage Month (coming September 2023)
Each month also included a curated resource section for each community on HiddenHealers.org and a unique “healing” Spotify playlist featuring artists from the spotlighted community for that month.
In 2022, MTV spearheaded the Mental Health Youth Action Forum to empower young people, especially BIPOC and LGBTQ+, to develop mental health campaigns that would resonate with their communities and drive people to take mental health actions. Envisioned by young people for young people, the Hidden Healers series drives people towards attainable, affordable, and inclusive methods of care, while shining a bright light on the traditions and practices of various communities that can help us all heal and flourish.
There are eight videos in the series in three different unique formats that reached MTV’s digital audience of 20 million on Instagram, more than 9 million on TikTok, more than 17 million on Twitter, and 45 million on Facebook. We leveraged existing MTV digital series “First Cuts” and “20 Questions” to connect with talent through direct-to-camera interviews and created a new series called “It’s Tradish,” which is an activity-based interview that invites talent to explore a tradition from their community, all while answering a variety of questions ranging from mental health and healing to pop culture.
The goal of this series was to support, uplift and inform our audience about the importance of taking care of themselves but to also inform our audience about the traditional practices of each community that can be viewed as healing. For each video, we met with experts to learn and understand the history of that community and its struggles, and what actions they employ to find joy and comfort during challenging times. Community partner organizations (all compensated for their expert advice) were We R Native for Native Peoples Heritage Month, The AAKOMA Project for Black History Month, SeekHer Foundation for Women’s History Month, Pillars Fund for Arab American Heritage Month, Asian Mental Health Collective for AAPI Heritage Month, Caribbean Equality Project for Caribbean Heritage Month and Poderistas for Latinx Heritage Month.
We then went beyond bringing awareness to different forms of healing by encouraging our audience to take action for their own mental health at HiddenHealers.org. This website includes a curated list of resources from therapist directories, support groups, therapy funds, videos, virtual webinars, blog posts, and podcasts, all tailored to each community we spotlighted. We also created “Hidden Healers: The Self Care Playlist” on Spotify which features music from artists who identify with the communities highlighted each month.
To help expand our message and encourage others to look at their own traditions as a source of Hidden Healing, we engaged influencers to share with their audiences how they practice Hidden Healing in their everyday lives through actions such as praying, horseback riding, journaling, eating home-cooked meals and appreciating nature. Through this series, we were able to meet our audiences where they were – on social platforms and listening to music on Spotify – and provide them with tangible resources to make them feel proud of where they came from and more empowered to take action for their mental health.
The primary goal of the Hidden Healers campaign is to shed light on alternative healing practices from BIPOC traditions and cultures and to empower our audiences to take action for their mental health.
Following the release of the Hidden Healers video series, we saw significant positive engagement from our audience, with many expressing gratitude for this type of content and sharing that they felt inspired to share their own stories and mental health practices. Viewers expressed their excitement with statements such as: “MTV, thank you for lifting up Arab American artists and creators like @anees this month and always. Here’s to normalizing conversations about our mental health!”, “I heal by listening to FLO”, and “This is amazing. As a Guyanese woman, this is a beautiful expression for people who don't know what carnival is!!!!!”
As of July 2023, the seven released Hidden Healers pieces drove a combined total of 9M views, 186K engagements, and 8.5M impressions across platforms.
We are proud to be able to share uplifting and empowering content with our audiences that help communities feel seen, while also helping others learn more about a range of mental health practices and customs they may not otherwise encounter. We also directed people to seek resources, where they could find mental health information and specialized support. As of July 2023, more than 2,500 visitors have found resources on the Hidden Healers site and The Hidden Healers Self-Care Playlist has garnered nearly 300 followers and many more listeners.