New campaign and contest aim to get kids talking about mental health

The 'Sound It Out' Challenge gives young people the chance to win an iPad Pro, personalized journal and a year of the Calm App.

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Data shows that one in every three Black children in America has been exposed to two to eight adverse childhood experiences—yet they are also less likely to be referred to mental health services than White children. A new national campaign uses music to assist parents and caregivers as they work to equip middle schoolers with tools to foster emotional wellness.

Photo: Courtesy of the Ad Council

Sound It Out”, created by the Ad Council in partnership with Pivotal Ventures and a coalition of organizations including Values Partnerships and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, delivers exclusive music and interviews from artists including Tôbe Nwigwe, Lauren Jauregui and KAMAUU. Based on conversations between the artists and kids, the collaboration has produced an album of exclusive songs, all of which help were composed to help kids express themselves and their emotions.

To create this campaign, the Ad Council and Pivotal Ventures worked closely alongside notable mental health experts to ensure the project would remain “rooted in clinical expertise” as well as being “culturally competent and relevant.” The project’s mental health expert advisors include Dr. Alfiee M. Breland-Noble, founder of the AAKOMA Project, Inc.; Harvard University Psychology Professor Dr. Kimberlyn Leary; and psychotherapist and Heal Haus practitioner Therese Kempf, LCSW.

“Sound It Out” also provides parents and caregivers with resource guides to properly understand and discuss mental health with young children. Guides include a four-part resource on how to make conversations about emotional health and wellness easier. Also included are resource guides on more focused topics including racism and xenophobia, sexuality, friendships, gender, depression and anxiety.

The initiative is currently hosting the “Sound It Out” Challenge, inviting youth between the ages of 10 and 15 to submit an original rap, song or poem that relates to mental health. Four winners in the categories of Best Rap, Best Song, Best Poem/Spoken Word and Viewer’s Choice Award will receive an iPad Pro, a personalized journal and a one-year subscription to the Calm App.

Winners of the challenge will announced on Thursday, February 10 at Sound It Out’s national virtual event. There, speakers will discuss the importance of youth mental health and wellness, while the younger participants will share how they process their emotions and difficulty.

Entries must be submitted by 11:59pm EST on January 31, 2022. To be considered for the Viewer’s Choice Award, entries must also be submitted on Instagram.


Candice Marie Benbow is theGrio’s daily lifestyle, education and health writer. She’s also the author of Red Lip Theology: For Church Girls Who’ve Considered Tithing to the Beauty Supply Store When Sunday Morning Isn’t Enough. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @candicebenbow.

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