VICE hits pause on student stress
If you’ve ever sought a moment’s peace to get on with writing a long overdue piece, or simply wanted to escape the hubbub of the office, then it’s likely you’ve come across YouTube’s College Music. The channel’s live stream of lo-fi hip-hop accompanied by a video of an anime girl studying has become a phenomenon, particularly among students. The ‘Study Girl’ animation is synonymous with similar channels too, as she keeps students company whilst both work away without pause.
But now, after a ceaseless 19,416 hours (or 809 days) of studying, the character is taking a break. That’s because College Music noticed a trend in the chat that accompanies their stream. Students were talking about how stressed they were, how overworked and in some cases, about how they were experiencing suicidal thoughts.
This week sees SATS and GCSE exams taking place across the UK, a period during which Childline have previously seen a 200% increase in young people calling their hotline with exam-related stress. Whilst the perception of students is often one of an easy life, part-time timetables, long holidays and partying, the reality is one of relentless pressure.
College Music decided to reach out via their channel with a campaign 'LoFi Beats Suicide' from McCann London, and support from VICE, to show that even ‘Study Girl’ suffers from undue pressure. Now when you visit the stream, you’ll find her chair empty and be asked to click on another link. This takes you to a distressing video of ‘Study Girl’ setting down her pen, rubbing her eyes and crying, before she contemplates taking her own life.
The animation is startling in its imagery, especially when it follows over two years’ worth of harmless content. It’s one McCann London took care to consult with the Samaritans on, so that what they show is accurate and in no way alarmist. It’s a way of alerting those watching to the dangers of not taking a break, of not being open about how they feel, or even asking their friends if they need to talk. It’s about the dangers of students thinking that fitting in prohibits them from feeling.
The new video of ‘Study Girl’ includes a link to especially curated mental health content on VICE’s page, that include the phone numbers for helplines worldwide. VICE are also supporting the campaign with a mental health takeover on their Snapchat Discover Channel, one that draws a core audience of 13 to 24-year-olds.