Meredith O’Connor: Message In the Music
Meredith O’Connor is an international star, model, songstress, and mental health advocate. She has worked with celebrities such as Demi Lovato to bring awareness to her anti-bullying and mental health campaigns. Recently, Meredith has re-launched her “You Are Not Alone” campaign, which is aimed at providing mental health awareness to children from elementary school to high school. As a Ted Talk alumni, Meredith is passionate about bringing mental health awareness to the forefront of the adolescent stage.
International star Meredith O’ Conner Re launched her you are not alone campaign! The model, songstress, and mental health advocate have worked with the likes of Demi Lovato and a host of celebrities to bring awareness to her anti bullies, mental health. The Ted Talk alumni are bringing back her you are not alone campaign for kids from elementary to high school to bring mental awareness to the main stage of adolescence. The campaign is a platform for kids to share their stories and experiences with mental health and bullying. Meredith is also working with schools to create a safe space for kids to talk about their mental health and to provide resources for those who need help. Meredith is also working with organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to provide resources and support for those who are struggling with mental health issues. The campaign is a reminder that no one is alone in their struggles and that there is help available. Meredith is hoping to create a safe space for kids to talk.
Zoey: The “You Are Not Alone” campaign was a success, partnering up with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and celebrities from all around the world to lend their celebrity to spotlight this cause. What made you choose music to spread your message?
Meredith: When I initially broke onto the music scene with ‘Celebrity’ I saw that having a hit song gave me a chance to be the role model that I wish I had in pop culture when I was growing up. I wanted my next single to be almost like a letter I could have written to my awkward 13 year old self, when I felt isolated and alone. I did that through the song “The Game”, which became known as an anti-bullying anthem. After that, music executives, publicists, (and myself included) were shocked by how many fans had a strong response to the song. Seeing messages from thousands of fans around the world who said that they shared the experience of feeling alone, was not anything my 13 year old self would have imagined in a million years. That was when I was approached by producers, other artists, etc, about collaborations. Many celebrities that I had watched when I was growing up shared with me that they, too, related to the message.
Zoey: How did the idea for the “You Are Not Alone” campaign start?
Meredith: I saw that the feeling of isolation, which can result from mental illness, neurodiversity, and bullying can cause real pain, and can make getting through every day challenging. I was first and foremost inspired by my fans after numerous “meet and greets” on both tours, as well as by the artists who came forward after my anti-bullying song came out. I decided to create an international campaign that would engage global artists and communities around the world in an effort to help others learn what my fans had shown me, specifically that “You Are Not Alone”.
Zoey: We are still adjusting to the new normal after COVID-19, where depression, online harassment, and mental illness seem to be at an all-time high. Is this one of the reasons why you relaunched your “You Are Not Alone” campaign?
Meredith: Yes- COVID had a major impact on the way we implemented the campaign. The initial plan was to collaborate with US based stars and include an in-person concert following the single release. One of the first celebrities to sign on was actually Mary Wilson of The Supremes, who’s impact on the music industry will be eternally significant. At the same time, following the COVID-19 outbreak, when the Asian leg of my second world tour was put off, the mental health epidemic of isolation became a major topic of discussion globally. As the pandemic brought about feelings of isolation and loneliness globally, I considered how the pandemic’s shift to remote work could possibly foster new global connections in the face of isolation. This inspired me to educate myself more on mental health activists in different global music genres and parts of the world as well as to form Metamorphosis Records. I became fascinated with the work of Afropop artists like Reekado Banks and Kpop artists like Minzy, so when we reached out to work with them, I was honored to have them join the track. I am also grateful to Indian actress/singer Asees Kaur, Latin-pop artists RUGGERO, Di Ferrero and so many more of global music’s powerhouses who lent their voices to this initiative, as well as having had the song produced by the legendary Gary Miller. Having the campaign make headlines across the globe upon its digital launch and have it impact different communities was such an honor.
Zoey: This time round with the relaunch of your campaign for “You Are Not Alone,” you have expanded your program by teaming up with school assemblies and global programs. The kick-off for your “You Are Not Alone” campaign has already kicked off on May 30 in New York City and will be worldwide by the fall. Are there any new and exciting details that we should know about the campaign this time around?
Meredith: Yes, I’m thrilled to announce the relaunching of the school assembly, which was started back when I used to tour, in between my concerts. We now have a new format for the “You Are Not Alone” school program. We first announced this at my keynote speech with UC Irvine, and we shared more details about it at the “Hollywood and Mind” Summit. In May, the new assembly debuted with the Office of Safety & Youth Development in New York City (since I am based there) and the full program’s global rollout will take place in the Fall. We are expecting to launch the program with schools in parts of Africa, Europe, India, the UK and more in collaboration with some incredible nonprofits and NGOS in the communities.
The school program will collaborate with community leaders and offer a curriculum centered on clinically informed strategies, guides, and resources grounded in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, mental health education and activities centered on music, with a focus on addressing isolation and self-esteem. I’m excited to be speaking with female founders who have made such a positive impact on children, including the founder of Slam Out Loud, Kechie’s Project, Sravani Hospitals, and more, about this.
Zoey: Some of the details that we do know about the relaunch of the campaign are that this time the school assembly program will include an interactive opportunity for select students to perform “You Are Not Alone” with global music stars. What a great opportunity for students to share their voices. How did this idea come about?
Meredith: Thank you! The inspiration for this idea came in part from seeing the power that music, specifically music with a focus on universality, has to connect individuals to communities. I began to learn that after fans had started to respond the way they did to my story. Much of my inspiration throughout my career has been motivated by being representative of people who identified with my experiences. My hope is that they will not feel that they are alone, the way I did. Having ADHD, OCD, and facing bullying the way I did led me to dislike things about myself. The irony is that those qualities that made me different are what helped to make me successful. It’s been so important to me ever since, to encourage others to love their unique qualities and differences, especially during the crucial years in development. Of course, mental health challenges in different parts of the world, as well as the narrative and conversation surrounding them, can look different depending on where you live. That is part of why having artists from different communities and backgrounds to participate in the original recording of “You Are Not Alone” was so important. Not only is representation important through popular music artists, but involving students from around the world to participate in the project this time will be very exciting.
Zoey: Many of your fans are excited about the relaunch of this campaign and are looking forward to the magic and awareness it will create. Are there any new projects or music to look out for from you as well?
Meredith: Since I attended The Grammys® this year, I’ve read articles, questions, comments, and posts about my possible return to music after I studied Mental Health at Fordham University. Recently, I spoke at the “Hollywood and Mind” Summit on the ways that some of my earlier work had impacted mental health and bullying prevention in pop culture, as well as future initiatives. As it’s been years since I last toured, it was so exciting to be there alongside some of the other artists who have paved the way for this advocacy and helped to bring the mental health conversation to where it is today. Through the “You Are Not Alone” school program, it is my intent to continue to amplify voices of mental health advocacy globally, and to find ways to bring music and mental health advocacy together. While we don’t have any confirmed music announcements (yet), stay tuned for an announcement coming this summer where I will share details on a project that Metamorphosis will be taking part in.
To stay update with Meredith O’Connor you can follow her on her Instagram @Meredith O’Connor or her Twitter @MeredithOConnor