Program promotes mental health for middle schoolers

(Sound it Out promotes talking mental health)

According to a U.S. Surgeon General report, one in five children and teens will face a significant mental health condition during their school years. Mental health disorders can range from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to autism, depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and others. 

The stats are sobering, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the suicide rate nearly tripled among young people aged 10-14 between 2007 and 2017.

And a recent CDC analysis shows that the share of emergency room visits for mental health challenges, like panic and anxiety, increased by 31% among adolescents aged 12-17 during the pandemic, indicating the negative effects of social isolation and lockdowns.

It’s a crisis.

The national Sound It Out campaign launches with a new album and resources to help parents and caregivers have meaningful conversations about emotional wellbeing with their middle schoolers.

The songs will be available across all major streaming platforms and can be heard on the campaign website at, which also offers free expert-vetted resources to guide conversations.

The campaign—a collaboration between the Ad Council and Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates—comes at a time when many young people are struggling with isolation and stress caused by the pandemic, on top of the normal pressures of growing up. 

Sound It Out places an emphasis on reaching parents and caregivers in Black and Hispanic/Latinx communities, which often face the additional trauma of systemic racism and greater challenges in accessing the support they need. Songs, videos and resources will be available in English and Spanish.

Inspired by the insight that music can help unlock conversations between middle schoolers and their parents or caregivers, the campaign features exclusive new music and interviews from recording artists KAMAUUTobe NwigweLauren Jauregui and Empress Of. The artists participated in intimate conversations with middle schoolers and their caregivers, facilitated by mental health experts, and translated the kids’ emotions and experiences into songs.

“The most impressionable minds of any group of people are the minds of children. In America, the most systematically attacked and targeted community is the ‘Black’ community,” said KAMAUU, who wrote and recorded a song inspired by his conversation with Howie, a 14-year-old from New York.

He adds, “I was drawn to participate and be a part of this project in the name of self-preservation. In doing what I can to help the youth and parents (fathers and mothers), I can help create a better community for myself and for my future children.”

Our friends at McCann New York with support from Casanova//McCann, EGAMI Group and Mass Appeal, developed the PSAs. Watch below:

“Conversations with young people about their emotional health and wellbeing can be difficult, but are critically important, especially during a pandemic that has left many feeling isolated and alone,” said Dr. Renee Wittemyer, Director of Program Strategy and Investment for Pivotal Ventures. “The Sound It Out campaign uses the unique power of music to help young people and the adults who care for them find a common language to express these emotions. Innovative efforts like this one are essential to helping more young people get the support they need.”

“The generational stigma and subsequent gravity of mental health conversations in my community have been top of mind more than ever. It feels inaccessible not only from a lack of tools, but from a lack of the language to talk about it. The lyrics of music, however, have the magic to speak on every emotion for a sound mind,” notes Gabrielle Shirdan, VP Creative Director at McCann NY. 

The exclusive album will be available to stream across Amazon Music, Apple Music, deezer, Google Play, iTunes, Pandora, SoundCloud, Spotify, Tidal and YouTube.

Caregivers can also access the campaign videos, songs and resources on Sound It Out channels on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.