Just ahead of Mental Health Awareness Month, some of today’s biggest music artists have teamed up to kick off a new nationwide campaign championing positive mental health for Black and brown youth.
Sound It Out — created by the Ad Council, in partnership with Pivotal Ventures and a coalition of organizations — is a national initiative that’s using the power and soul of music to help parents and guardians offer better support and resources to their middle school aged kids and help boost their emotional wellness.
According to a press release, the new campaign features exclusive new music for an album and interviews from all participating recording artists, including KAMAUU, Tobe Nwigwe, Lauren Jauregui and Empress Of.
In addition to contributing music, all artists were able to participate in candid, intimate conversations with middle schoolers and their caregivers, facilitated by mental health experts, to assist in translating the kids’ emotions and experiences into their respective songs.
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For Nigerian-American rapper and singer Tobe Nwigwe, his experiences growing up as a Black man in America are that mental health and emotional wellness are not topics often talked about in our community,
“Unfortunately, emotional wellbeing is not something we discuss openly in our culture. As a father, an uncle, friend, and role model, I want to help change that narrative,” he tells AfroTech. “I want the younger generation to know that it’s ok to talk about your feelings, it’s ok to have emotions, it’s ok to cry, but with purpose behind your tears. Don’t just cry without purpose. Get to the root of the situation. And it’s always ok to ask for help. And if you can’t find the right words to express yourself, you can always find the lyrics.”
Black youth in America are amongst the main groups of people often targeted for violence, racism and hate as it’s the daily reality in the Black community. This project aims to give these kids the tools they need to prepare their minds for the mental warfare they will experience in their lifetimes.
“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,” artist KAMAUU shared in a statement. “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.”
The generational stigma around mental health in the Black community is something many today are working to combat by offering a plethora of resources to educate and better equip people to better care for themselves.
These preliminary conversations are still just the beginning. Initiatives like Sound It Out are doing their part to employ the universal language of music to reach as many youth as it possibly can and shift the culture around mental health.
“Getting middle schoolers to open up about their emotions can be hard, but music is a powerful medium that helps us put our thoughts and feelings into words. When we can’t find a way to say it, there’s probably a song that can,” Heidi Arthur — Chief Campaign Development Officer at the Ad Council — said in a statement. “At a time when it couldn’t be more needed, Sound It Out uses music to help parents and caregivers have more meaningful conversations with their kids about their emotional wellbeing.”
For more information about the Sound It Out campaign, visit its website.