Jason Sudeikis and ‘Ted Lasso’ cast meet with Biden for mental health discussion
By Arlette Saenz, CNN
Ted Lasso and President Joe Biden are teaming up to — as the television football coach would say — “believe” in the importance of mental health.
Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden hosted actor Jason Sudeikis and other members of the cast of “Ted Lasso” at the White House on Monday for a conversation on mental health, Apple TV+ announced Sunday.
Cast members joining the discussion include Hannah Waddingham, Jeremy Swift, Phil Dunster, Brett Goldstein, Brendan Hunt, Toheeb Jimoh, Cristo Fernandez, Kola Bokinni, Billy Harris and James Lance.
The cast visited the White House briefing room on Monday ahead of the meeting with the Bidens.
“No matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter who you voted for, we all probably — I assume, we all know someone who has or had been that someone ourselves actually, that’s struggled, that’s felt isolated, that’s felt anxious, that has felt alone,” Sudeikis said from the press secretary’s podium. “It’s actually one of the many things, that believe it or not, that we all have in common as human beings.”
Sudeikis said President Biden and his team were working on making sure Americans know about the options that are available to help with mental health, and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said it was a cornerstone of Biden’s “unity agenda.”
“I know in this town, a lot of folks don’t always agree right? And don’t always feel heard seen listened to,” Sudeikis said. “But I truly believe that we should all do our best to help take care of each other.”
A White House official said the meeting will focus on discussing “the importance of addressing your mental health to promote overall wellbeing.”
The president on Sunday tweeted a photo of a yellow poster bearing the word “BELIEVE” above a door leading to the Oval Office. The sign is reminiscent of one affixed above Lasso’s office door in the AFC Richmond locker room on the show.
The Emmy Award-winning show, which is now streaming its third season on AppleTV+, has tackled mental health issues in its storyline, chiefly through its title character played by Sudeikis, an affable coach who seeks therapy after grappling with panic attacks.
“In regard to the mental health stuff, it was just there. It’s been there forever, but it’s really come up a lot in just knowing where the characters were headed and how important it is to work on yourself to help your team,” Sudeikis told Us Weekly in 2021. “And I think that we were trying to explore that and personify it in a way and kind of trojan horse that there’s bigger issues in this fun, silly little comedy show.”
“People have really responded to that,” Sudeikis continued, “And myself and other people in the cast and the writing staff get messages daily from people thanking them for really opening their eyes to what it means to go to therapy and what it means for someone in their own life to go to therapy and just speaking about these things and taking the stigma off of any form of health whether it be nutrition or mental, emotional health.”
“Ted Lasso” is produced by Warner Bros. Discovery, CNN’s parent company.
Biden has made improving mental health a key portion of the “unity agenda” he debuted in his 2022 State of the Union address when he urged the country to “take on mental health.”
“Let’s do more on mental health, especially for our children,” Biden also said in this year’s State of the Union address. “When millions of young people are struggling with bullying, violence, trauma, we owe them greater access to mental health care in their schools.”
The Biden administration has focused on “training more providers, making care more affordable and accessible, and creating healthier and safer communities, including online,” the White House official said.
A 2022 survey by CNN and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 9 in ten adults believe a mental health crisis exists in the United States.
The White House has enlisted celebrities on several occasions to raise awareness about key issues, including mental health. Actress and singer Selena Gomez, who has shared her own struggles with bipolar disorder, appeared with the first lady at a Mental Health Youth Action Forum hosted by MTV at the White House last year. Gomez also talked about using her platform to promote mental health awareness in a video with the president, first lady and Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.
Content from the Bidens’ meeting with the cast of “Ted Lasso” will appear on the White House’s social medial channels, according to Apple TV+.
CNN’s Jake Tapper will sit down with Jason Sudeikis for a one-on-one CNN Primetime conversation this Friday, March 24 at 9 p.m. ET.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.
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CNN’s Nikki Carvajal and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.