The internet asks about the mental health of Burger King employees

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Burger King this week released an ad addressing mental health. It’s been divisive and attacked online for tone-deaf qualities. It’s also prompted many on Twitter to ask how the burger giant treats its own labor force.

The campaign, produced in partnership with Mental Health America (MHA), was released on Wednesday, kicking off Mental Health Awareness Month.

The ad features everyday struggles of people—from a man feeling low in his bedroom, to a high school student feeling bullied in school, a working woman angry at her boss, a young man anxious about having to pay student loans, a young man ghosted by a date, and a young woman feeling judged for likely being teen mom.

“Not everybody wakes up happy,” the ad starts off with the man in his room saying. “Sometimes you feel sad, scared, crappy. All I ask is that you let me feel my way.”

Suddenly, they all sing “all I ask is that you let me feel my way,” each in a triumphant moment of owning their feelings.

“No one is happy all the time. And that’s OK,” the ad reads, showing the different “emotions” attributed to the meals in their range: Blue meal, YAAAS, pissed, salty, and DGAF, which is when the burgers finally become relevant in the ad, and the hashtag “#FEELYOURWAY” is introduced.

Some people initially seemed to enjoy the offbeat ad.

But most expressed their reservations about the ad potentially trivializing mental health. Many asked how supportive Burger King is about its own employees getting mental health support—or being paid enough to get mental health support:

Financial stress has previously been linked to depression and with Burger King paying workers a minimum wage of $8.26/hour, a little over the national average, the optics for the fast-food chain were easy to call out on Twitter.

According to a job posting on Glassdoor, the company advertises medical, vision, disability, life, and travel accident insurance to “eligible employees.” It doesn’t mention mental health, and even with the insurances it does offer, past and present employees have left poor reviews about the limitations of Burger King’s coverage.

And many expressed other reservations.

And like with everything on Twitter, there were a fair number of jokes about the ad:

Especially from Pornhub, which replied with a dry “This aint it chief.”

The MHA, ahead of the ad’s release, expressed excitement with the campaign. “While not everyone would think about pairing fast food and mental health, MHA believes in elevating the conversation in all communities in order to address mental illness Before Stage 4,” the MHA said in a statement on its website. “By using its internationally-known reputation to discuss the importance of mental health, Burger King is bringing much-needed awareness to this important and critical discussion—and letting its customers know that is OK to not be OK.”

The packages are available in only five stores across the country—in Los Angeles; New York City; Austin, Texas; Miami; and Seattle, according to the MHA website.

Color-coded burger boxes, no matter how cute or inclusive of different emotions, will likely not cure depression or anxiety. Burger King did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s questions.

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Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque