Starting October 10 — World Mental Health Day — HBO is adding mental health awareness disclaimers, called “bumpers”, to select episodes of its programming, including from shows like “Euphoria”, “Barry”, and “The Sopranos”. These bumpers will specifically occur before episodes that feature scenes of mental illness, as well as provide the phone number for a mental health hotline (1.833.HBO.NAMI) for viewers to call for help with related issues.
The bumpers are all part of HBO’s new “It’s OK” initiative and its aim to raise awareness and destigmatize the conversation surrounding mental health. According to a statement released by HBO, with It’s OK, the cable network will “highlight a diversity of characters seen throughout the network’s series whose stories can help to normalize the conversation.”
“HBO has always been at the forefront of telling stories featuring complex characters, some of whom deal with mental illness, from ‘The Sopranos to ‘Euphoria,’ encouraging more conversation around the different facets of mental health,” said HBO’s Vice President of Brand & Product Marketing, Jason Mulderig, in the statement. “We are not saying ‘viewer discretion is advised.’ We are saying ‘viewer conversation is encouraged.’” Like the ratings that come before each episode, these mental health bumpers will provide information about what specific issues the episode contains—and that “It’s OK.”
HBO partnered with the National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI) and its local affiliate NAMI NYC to create these pre-episode bumpers, which will debut in select episodes of both new and legacy shows, including: “Barry,” “Euphoria,” “Girls,” “The Sopranos,” “Gary Gulman: The Great Depresh,” “Boy Interrupted,” “Chris Gethard: Career Suicide,” “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press One,” “Diagnosis Bipolar: Five Families Search for Answers,” “I Love You Now Die,” “In Treatment,” “Kurt Cobain Montage of Heck,” “Risky Drinking,” and “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling” Part 1 & 2.
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The It’s OK initiative will also be introducing “Doctor Commentaries,” a short-form series with cognitive-behavioral therapist Dr. Ali Mattu. Mattu will break down applicable scenes from HBO shows, explaining them from a mental health perspective. The first part of the series (available on both YouTube and HBO.com) focuses on an episode of “Girls” and can be watched below.