Preview – Perspective On… Happy Media, Happy Mind
Sallyann Keizer, MD of BAFTA-winning Sixth Sense Media and founder of two mental health non-profits, writes about her upcoming panel ‘Happy Media, Happy Mind’ and why 2021 is the year to open up a real conversation about child mental health.
Early this year, I was asked to write an article for the Children’s Media Yearbook on the importance of protecting child mental health. As a children’s content maker of 25 years and the founder of Bow-Wowza, a digital non-profit offering empowering children to flourish, this topic is close to my heart. I began the article with one of my favourite quotes, from Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.” This is where I believe the media can play an important role: in not only fixing, but also preventing poor mental health for our younger generation.
So, the purpose of ‘Happy Media, Happy Mind’ is to look to the future and learn best practices from leading lights in the media and mental health worlds. While we have so many incredible contributors to the session, I’m particularly excited to be providing a platform for António Ferreira, a young media volunteer with lived experience of serious mental illness. António represents the best of the younger generation: intelligent, balanced, an expert by experience, and someone who wants to use his suffering to educate and prevent the same thing happening to others. Hearing António’s voice alongside industry heavyweights such as PBS’s Linda Simensky and YouTube’s Mac Malik, plus the wonderful Dr Radha Modgil, gave me great hope, and shows that things really are moving forward.
The research shows that there is indeed a problem when it comes to child mental health. According to the NHS, in 2020, one in six children aged 5 to 16 years were identified as having a probable mental disorder – an increase from one in 9 in 2017. Since the end of 2019, mental health concerns across all ages of children have grown by 72%. Meanwhile, kids are spending more time than ever in front of their screens, with lockdown accelerating this already-growing trend. And yet, while there always has been and will continue to be moral panics surrounding whatever new technologies our kids are exposed to, the data and the children themselves tell us that they want to embrace all media and use it in a constructive way.
This sense of optimism really shone through in all the conversations we held for the session. From the young people and researchers we took advice from, to our global vox pop contributors from CBC, TVO and ITV – and of course our lovely panelists – it was clear that not only was everyone thinking about mental health, but also that they really, truly cared. And so, this session is a real opportunity to witness an open dialogue between individuals of utterly different backgrounds, from different industries, but who all share a deep desire to use the power of the media for good: shaping a flourishing future for our young audience, together.
Sixth Sense Media
Mental Health Ambassador
Global Head of Programming
Dr Radha Modgil
Doctor, Broadcaster and Author
Head of Content
Senior Director of Children's Content
Acquisitions Manager: Films & Kids
Sixth Sense Media