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Brief Published: 4 Aug 2020

Lockdown Audiences Demand Mental Health Content

US broadcaster Showtime shared with US Magazine The Atlantic that viewership of its docuseries Couples Therapy – which follows US psychologist Orna Guralnik through sessions with real people working through their relationships – has risen by 50% since lockdowns began in March.

As consumers are grappling with multiple stressors, media that gives insight into mental health tools adds utility to entertainment. US broadcaster HBO anticipated audience demand for support around British actress and screenwriter Michaela Coel's show I May Destroy You, which centres on a Black woman coming to terms with a sexual assault. Upon launch, HBO enhanced the show with Gathering the Pieces – a companion series of Instagram Live conversations between Black influencers and mental health experts in partnership with US mental wellness platform Therapy for Black Girls.

Meanwhile, Group is a web series launched in May that follows eight actors as they improvise characters in group-therapy sessions, led by a real qualified New York City therapist. The fictionalised backbone makes Group an unproblematic access point for free second-hand therapy.

There are a lot of commercial niches to fill with specific targeting. For instance, 70% of US teens report that anxiety and depression are a major concern among their peers (Pew, 2019). The Teenager Therapy podcast – hosted by five self-described "sleep-deprived, yet energetic" US highschoolers – speaks to those anxieties on a peer-to-peer level, which earns them over 100k regular listeners.

To read more on media that helps consumers through the pandemic, check out our Pop Culture Round-Up: Summer 2020, and for a specific look at how brands are supporting children, see Pop Culture for Alpha Consumers.