Comedy Central and HBO Launch Mental Health Awareness Initiatives

Today is World Mental Health Day and comedy is getting involved. Comedy Central, specifically. With the help of Yamaneika Saunders, Jeff Ross and Matteo Lane, the network put out a video of the three comedians talking about Mental Health and urging people to #bethedifference in the life of someone suffering from mental health issues. The spot is the initial step in Comedy Central’s first long-term social impact campaign that will focus on driving culture change on mental health. Comedy Central is partnering with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), a program of the National Council for Behavioral Health on the project.

In addition to the PSA, Comedy Central employees will be signing up for Mental Health First Aid at Work, which teaches participants how to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of a mental health issue. This is a step in Comedy Central’s commitment to creating comedic content for the Be the Difference social impact campaign that aims to educate and raise awareness about mental health issues.

The brands previously partnered at the Comedy Central Presents Clusterfest comedy festival this summer with a special panel, “Comedy and Mental Health: A Hilarious Conversation,” that featured comedians Neal Brennan, Michelle Buteau, Tig Notaro and Jeff Ross. In addition, festival goers experienced a “Festival of Friendship” activation encouraging people to learn more about Mental Health First Aid and how to #BeTheDifference in helping friends during a mental health or substance-use problem.

Comedy Central isn’t the only network getting the word out.

Right on the heels of releasing Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh, HBO is announcing “It’s OK” an initiative aiming to destigmatize mental health issues and encourage conversation. HBO is tying the campaign in with its original series with bumpers and doctor commentaries surrounding mental health issues depicted in them. Mental Health Awareness bumpers and short form content will run on HBO’s platforms beginning today, October 10th.

HBO’s bumpers will let viewers know what mental health issues are depicted in select episodes. The network partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) and the local affiliate NAMI NYC on the creation of these bumpers.

HBO Comedy programming is a big part of the initiative. The programming will debut in select episodes of HBO’s Barry, Euphoria, Girls, Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh, Chris Gethard: Career Suicide, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling Part 1 & 2 and more. Each bumper will contain a call to action for those who seek help at 1.833.HBO.NAMI or to visit

The Doctor Commentaries will feature discussions about relevant scenes from HBO Shows with clinical psychologist and mental health champion, Dr. Ali Mattu, who will share his insights from a mental health perspective. “It’s easy to overlook symptoms of mental illness and examples of mental health when we’re watching a show,” explains Dr. Ali Mattu. “There’s so much we can learn within certain scenes of these selected shows and we hope the commentaries give viewers a new perspective on mental health.” The series will debut with an episode featuring Girls on October 10th. Each commentary will live on social (YouTube) &

As part of HBO’s partnership with NAMI, the network will make Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh available on and HBO’s YouTube channel for a limited time. The comedy special offers candid reflections on Gulman’s struggles with depression through stand-up and short documentary interludes that provide insight into his mental health journey.

Americans experience high rates of mental illness, as one in five Americans experience it each year. Additionally, of the six in 10 people who experience a mental health crisis, only one in 10 seek treatment. The stigma associated with mental health is one of the reasons for Americans not seeking treatment.

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