New Short Film Raises Awareness For Children's Mental Health This Holiday

Friday, December 20, 2019 Mental Health News
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Santa Encourages Parents To Reexamine "Naughty" Behavior For Possible Warning Signs

NEW YORK, Dec. 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- In an effort to raise awareness about mental health issues in children, Wieden+Kennedy New York and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) debuted a short film this week urging parents and caregivers to reexamine how we interpret children's behavior this holiday season. The film encourages families to take a more realistic look at their children's behavior to identify underlying issues that may be impacting them, rather than making a snap judgement.

While there is a general misconception that kids don't experience mental illness, 50% of mental health conditions begin by age 14.1 Based on data from the 2017-2018 National Survey of Children's Health, more than 10 million kids in the U.S. are dealing with mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and ADHD.2 

The short film titled "Naughty or…" depicts Santa Claus coming to terms with outdated notions of "naughty." He acknowledges that the old ways of dealing with our kids' behavior problems no longer reflect the troubling issues they face daily — "the news, the lockdown drills, the internet." Santa poses the idea that there are many other possibilities to consider, including "nervous or nice," "hurting or nice," and "uncomfortable in my own skin or nice." For kids who are struggling, "naughty or nice" is not a sophisticated enough evaluation.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director for NAMI, provides tips for parents on having a larger conversation with the entire family about these issues, as well as ways to reduce the stress on kids by changing the expectations of the holiday season. Some tips include:

  1. Reconsider the "naughty or nice" lists. Jumping to conclusions with binary labels "naughty" or "nice" could cause you to miss important warning signs about what's really going on with your child. (For more information visit and check out the online course for parents, NAMI Basics).
  2. Start sensitive conversations by being vulnerable yourself.Remember that the holidays can be a trigger for people. Going into charged situations requires us to meet each other in the middle and have more empathy for others.
  3. Leave judgments behind.Less shame and blame, more compassion at family gatherings. There are more intense familial expectations from people who don't see the family (or kids) that often.
  4. Tell your kids you've got their backs.The holiday season opens your kids up to opinions from the largest multi-generational peanut gallery all year. Ahead of all the festivities, remind them it's OK to be themselves.
  5. Model the behavior.Be a good example for your kids by approaching others with compassion and understanding this holiday season.
"People can feel down around the holidays for many reasons," said Dr. Ken Duckworth. "It could be the lack of sunlight, pressures in school, high expectations from family, loss of a loved one— any number of triggering factors which can contribute to the holidays being an emotional time of year. As families gather this season, let's recognize that we're experiencing a mental health crisis for kids in America. We all need to try be more compassionate with our kids and each other."

The short film was made in partnership with creative agency Wieden+Kennedy New York and will run on NAMI's YouTube channel.

For anyone with questions, the NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email Resources are also at

ABOUT NAMIThe National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. With over 600 affiliates, NAMI provides support and education, advocacy and public awareness across the country. Join the conversation: | | | #WhyCare and #NAMICares


Contacts:Charlie Dougiello | charlie@thedooronline.comRichele Keas | rkeas@nami.orgTheresa Collins |

1 Kessler et al., "Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication," Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun;62(6):593-602.

2 Child and Adolescent Measurement Initiative. National Survey of Children's Health (2017-2018). Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB). Retrieved 12/9/19

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SOURCE Wieden+Kennedy New York

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