October is a month of commemorations; it marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, includes the last two weeks of Hispanic Heritage Month, and tomorrow is International Day of the Girl. But mental health is an issue that affects every demographic—in fact, the World Health Organization estimates 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health condition in their lives—and today, October 10, is World Mental Health Day.
But acting on the belief that 4 out of 4 of those individuals will be impacted by mental health issues—either their own or loved ones’—activist and fashion designer Kenneth Cole today announced the formation of The Mental Health Coalition. Joined by founding partners from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; Bring Change to Mind; Child Mind Institute; Crisis Text Line; JED Foundation; Mental Health America; National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and The Trevor Project, The Mental Health Coalition aims to be “an initiative that will bring together the most respected and influential nonprofits, businesses, brands, celebrities and influencers for the first time in a large scale coordinated effort to destigmatize mental health conditions.”
Per a statement from the organization:
This coordinated effort to rebrand the way we use language to describe mental health will introduce a new non-stigmatized vocabulary (both spoken and visual) that we hope will create a cultural shift that allows people to feel empowered and better able to navigate their world while embracing their mental health conditions.
“I’m overwhelmed by the inspiring group of individuals and organizations who have agreed to join us in this critical effort to tackle an unprecedented crisis in an unprecedented way,” said Cole in a statement. “There is a role for everyone to play. We look forward to welcoming all like-minded organizations to join this collaborative effort.”
One of the group’s initial efforts will be the formation of an online platform and digital resource hub that will debut in tandem with Mental Health Awareness Month next May. “The platform will be a place where those seeking help or guidance can easily navigate the mental health space, ultimately marrying critical resources to extraordinary needs,” reads the statement. Also of note is that the team’s early initiatives will specifically seek to address how stigmas affect those ages 15-25, as mental illness most often presents itself in early adulthood and is also most treatable at that time of life (h/t NBCDFW).
“There are so many barriers preventing people—particularly young people, marginalized communities and underserved populations—from getting the mental health services they need and deserve,” said Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, president of the Child Mind Institute. “It will take a multidisciplinary coalition like this one to break down those barriers.”
Indeed, even the coalition’s logo is intended to represent the feeling of so many struggling with mental illness that they are “a square peg in a round hole.”
“The logo symbolically represents everyone who has, or will, experience mental illness and who occasionally feel they do not ‘fit in,’” says the organization.
“It is time that we come together to elevate this social issue and bring a new level of awareness to the movement,” says Katrina Gay, National Director of Strategic Partnerships for NAMI. “This coalition is essential and the time is now—for each of us, for our society, our communities and ourselves, to help galvanize to address this crisis and to unite to save lives.”
For more information on The Mental Health Coalition or to join, visit their website.