Elmo wants to 'check in' again, this time as part of a new 'Sesame Street' mental health initiative

From left to right: Sofia, Karli, and Elmo from "Sesame Street."

Back in January, beloved “Sesame Street” Muppet Elmo logged on to an array of social media platforms to see how everybody was doing at the start of 2024. 

“Elmo is just checking in!” He posted. “How is everybody doing?” 

The check-in prompted a flood of responses as people vented to the Muppet-turned-therapist about break-ups, unemployment, rent increases, and more. 

Elmo’s mental health check-in was quickly meme-fied as people saw the irony of “trauma dumping” on a character that is canonically only three and a half years old

But it also opened up a national conversation about mental health and how important it is to look out for one another. 

“Elmo I'm having a rough time. Love you though,” commented one user on Instagram. 

“Elmo hopes you doing okay,” he replied. “Elmo loves you today and every day.” 

This month, "Sesame Street" and its nonprofit Sesame Workshop want to “check in” on everyone again, this time they’re doing it with mental health-themed episodes and free resources for kids. 

“The mental health crisis we're facing today is top of mind for many, yet its impact on young children is often overlooked,” Sherrie Westin — President and Interim CEO of Sesame Workshop — said in a press release, which came in tandem with Mental Health Awareness Month

“We know developing a healthy mind, body, and heart, starts early,” Westin continued. “The presence of supportive, caring adults in children's lives makes a world of difference in their emotional well-being.” 

To help children learn about big concepts like “emotional well-being,” Sesame Street produced an array of videos that feature self-soothing techniques developed in partnership with the American Psychological Association

In one video, The Count finds The Countess crying over a broken tiara, and asks if she would like to try a grounding technique called a “Six Second Hug.” 

“We all have big feelings sometimes, but I know something can help you! We can count a six second hug,” The Count tells The Countess — and the audience. 

“First, we find someone we trust and feel safe with. Then, share a big hug…and we count to six!” 

In another video, which teaches kids the power of gratitude, The Count helps Elmo count out “Three Joyful Things.” 

(For fans curious about the new lore, Elmo picked singing, his friend The Count, and his puppy Tango.) 

“That is three!” The Count exclaims as he embraced Elmo. “Three things that bring Elmo joy! HA-HA-HA!” 

The initiative also comes with a free digital storybook for kids and parents to click through on their laptop or tablet. In the book titled “Thanks, Feelings Helpers!” Elmo gets help from a Sesame Street friend named Sofia, a therapist who helps him and his friends discuss “big feelings.” 

“By showing children how to not only manage big feelings but embrace their power in finding joy in even the toughest times, we can help them build a strong foundation to grow and blossom,” said Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president of social impact at Sesame Workshop.

“We all have big feelings,” Sofia tells Elmo in the book. “It’s okay to feel angry, sad, or scared — and all feelings are important. But sometimes our big feelings get so big that it makes it hard to do the things we want to do, like play, make friends, learn, sleep, try new things, and just have fun.” 

Sofia then tells Elmo about her job as a therapist, or “feelings helper,” who helps kids, families, and adults regulate their emotions and work through difficult times in life. 

The story is meant to normalize therapy, at a time where people of all ages are seeking it out more than ever

“We all need different kinds of help at different times,” Sofia tells Elmo. “We can get through hard times together by asking for help when we need it.”

Header image courtesy of Sesame Workshop

Article Details

May 8, 2024 12:30 PM
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