Ad of the Week: Santa's 'Naughty List' redefined in mental health spot from W+K

NAMI urges us to reexamine children's behavior this Christmas.

Santa’s "Naughty or Nice List": A way to motivate behavior, codify gift-giving and streamline deliveries. 

But after a thousand years, the big man is calling time on slotting children into these categories, because the reality is much more nuanced. 

In a campaign from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Wieden + Kennedy, Santa ponders how "naughty" should be redefined. 

"Isn’t it just a possibility they were nervous or nice? Uncomfortable in their own skin or nice? I’m made a I don’t know why or nice? My impulses are beyond my control or nice? Hurting. Or nice."

While there is a general misconception that kids don’t experience mental illness, 50 percent of such conditions begin by age 14. According to 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.

"The holidays were always stressful in my house with extended family visiting and noticing how much the kids had grown and changed," said Katrina Gay, national director of strategic partnerships at NAMI. 

"There is more intense pressure than ever on our kids to be successful and an expectation that they behave a certain way. But many young people suffer from mental health vulnerabilities. So, instead of making a snap judgement to label their actions as bad behavior, this film encourages all of us to be more compassionate and look a little deeper." 

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 include: Reconsider the "naughty or nice" lists; Start sensitive conversations by being vulnerable yourself; Leave judgments behind; Tell your kids you've got their backs; Model the behavior.

"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." 

For anyone has questions, the NAMI HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 am to 6 pm, ET at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email info@nami.org. Resources are also at NAMI.org.

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