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Which Children’s TV Character Recently Sparked a Conversation About Mental Health?

Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman

Considering Elmo’s status as a beloved figure in millions of childhoods, Sesame Street’s social media team probably should have seen this coming.

The furry red Muppet's tweet from Monday, January 29, was mundane enough—a simple check-in on X (formerly Twitter) at the beginning of the week: “Elmo is just checking in! How is everybody doing?”

When Elmo asked, “How is everybody doing?” on social media last month, the 'Sesame Street' character was inundated with people telling their favorite red Muppet about their struggles.
When Elmo asked, “How is everybody doing?” on social media last month, the 'Sesame Street' character was inundated with people telling their favorite red Muppet about their struggles.

Elmo’s social media activity usually consists of photos of Elmo and his Muppet pals doing things like playing in the snow, celebrating holidays, and meeting guest stars like Bruno Mars and Jamie Foxx. His X account, @elmo, is often full of fun and positive messages, offering hugs, and telling people that he loves them—just what you would expect from the iconic preschool TV series.

But with his check-in tweet, Elmo seems to have struck a nerve. The post quickly went viral, with thousands of ordinary people, along with celebrities, politicians, nonprofits, and corporations, weighing in and encouraging frank discussions about mental health. It seems people needed an opportunity to answer the perfunctory “How are you?” with something more than a meaningless “Fine, thanks!” Instead, social media users poured their hearts out, telling Elmo about their struggles with work, finances, relationships, family, mental health, and more.

As of February 10, the post has been viewed 210 million times on X alone (similar messages were also posted on Instagram, Facebook, and Threads), with 162,000 likes, 61,000 reposts, and 20,000 replies. The extensive media coverage even involved the recent appearance of Elmo and his dad, Louie, on the Today show. Sesame Workshop joined the conversation by sharing mental health and emotional wellbeing resources and encouraging children and adults to take care of each other and themselves. Perhaps Elmo put it best when he replied to the outpouring of feelings his original tweet received: “Wow! Elmo is glad he asked! Elmo learned that it is important to ask a friend how they are doing. Elmo will check in again soon, friends! Elmo loves you.#EmotionalWellBeing"

Muppets and mental health:

  • President Biden, through his official X account @POTUS, commented on Elmo’s response, writing that “Our friend Elmo is right: We have to be there for each other, offer our help to a neighbor in need, and above all else, ask for help when we need it.”

  • Elmo's fellow Sesame Street character Cookie Monster had a similar yet more succinct response: "Me here to talk it out whenever you want. Me will also supply cookies.  #EmotionalWellBeing"

  • Although Elmo says that his “mommy and daddy” help him with his social media posts, it was actually Christina Vittas, Sesame Workshop's social media manager, who authored Elmo’s viral tweet and tried to respond to as many people as possible.

  • Though Elmo first appeared on Sesame Street in 1980, he is supposed to be three-and-a-half years old (even though his birthday is on February 3).

Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman is a teacher and blogger who frequently writes for WiseGEEK about topics related to personal finance, parenting, health, nutrition, and education. Learn more...
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman is a teacher and blogger who frequently writes for WiseGEEK about topics related to personal finance, parenting, health, nutrition, and education. Learn more...

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    • When Elmo asked, “How is everybody doing?” on social media last month, the 'Sesame Street' character was inundated with people telling their favorite red Muppet about their struggles.
      By: NASA on The Commons
      When Elmo asked, “How is everybody doing?” on social media last month, the 'Sesame Street' character was inundated with people telling their favorite red Muppet about their struggles.