How are you doing, Long Island?


It was a simple question: “How is everybody doing?”

For any of us on social media, this is a question we see a lot. But in this particular case, it wasn’t just anyone asking.

It was Elmo. You know, the famous childlike Muppet who has been a “Sesame Street” staple since 1985, and who created a mad rush in the late 1990s for toys that encouraged kids to tickle him.

Like many of the characters we grew up with on the children’s education series, Elmo has his own account on platforms like Instagram and X, formerly known as Twitter. He follows just a dozen people — other characters like Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch — but Elmo is followed by more than a half-million people.

Many of his posts are birthday wishes to his Sesame Street neighbors like Bert’s best friend, Ernie, or sharing how much he enjoys his life in his fictional neighborhood.

But Elmo also cares about those who take the time to read his occasional posts. So it was no surprise when he let everyone know “Elmo is just checking in!” And more than 200 million people saw it, with a large number of celebrities, other kid-themed characters, and even President Biden chiming in.

But it was the everyday people — like us — whom Elmo noticed first.

“Elmo, I’m depressed and broke,” one follower replied.

“My dog passed away three weeks ago,” another follower shared. “Me and my fiancée are still grieving. Prayers would be appreciated.”

“I really, really try to be happy and strong at work,” someone else said. “But sometimes it’s just too much, Elmo. I’m struggling.”

After years of a crushing pandemic, ever-increasing polarization in politics, and wars raging overseas, we as a society have had better days when it comes to mental health. A Gallup poll surveying more than 5,000 people in all 50 states revealed that depression is on the rise, especially in women and young adults.

Women may have been hit extra hard, Gallup research director Dan Witters told ABC News at the time, because many were forced to leave work and return home when their children were forced to attend school remotely. Also, many women were on the front lines of the pandemic in our health care facilities, seeing firsthand the horrors Covid-19 brought.

Combating these feelings isn’t easy, but it is possible. The Long Island Crisis Center, for example, tackles this through its “Better Can Happen” campaign. The organization describes it as a grass-roots movement that “works to spread hope and highlight simple ways” for people to help make Long Island a better, friendlier place to live and work.

It does this through five primary tenets: Know better, feel better, say it better, do better and give better. That means knowing the signs of depression or even suicidal thoughts — which you can learn more about at LongIslandCrisisCenter.org/bettercanhappen. Seeking help when you need it through resources like simply dialing 988. Finding ways to talk about mental health without attaching a stigma to it. And, of course, donating time and money to keep these services going, whether it’s with the crisis center or a number of other fantastic organizations in our community.

More often than not, it starts with a simple question we don’t ask each other enough: How are you doing?

“Wow! Elmo is glad he asked,” the Muppet said on X several thousand replies later. “Elmo learned that it is important to ask a friend how they are doing. Elmo will check in again soon, friends! Elmo loves you.”

Just when we think we’re too old to learn something from a show that defined our childhoods, Elmo shows we have so much to learn. And we can begin by simply asking, “How are you doing, Long Island?”