What do you think of when you hear the term “mental health”?
Do you have visions of barbaric psychiatric hospitals from America’s past?
Do you become uncomfortable, afraid someone will either start discussing something you don’t want to talk about, or fearful you’ll say something insensitive and stupid in response?
Do you avoid discussing mental health because it’s a topic that we’ve learned to avoid at all costs, in order to dodge unfortunate discrimination and social isolation?
Nearly 44 million American adults–1 in 5 Americans—are affected by a mental health condition in any given year; yet, as a society, we refuse to talk about it.
This silence can have devastating consequences, perpetuating the idea that mental illness should be hidden, which ultimately keeps many people from getting help and propagates the discriminatory social practices our society needs to drop (like, yesterday).
The Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health initiative was created in 2015 with multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and mental health advocate Demi Lovato, five leading mental health advocacy organizations and Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc. to empower people living with a mental health condition to speak up for themselves and their loved ones. Through the development of a photography collection and documentary film featuring powerful stories of hope and resilience, Be Vocal is working to change the perceptions of mental health in America (BlogHer 2017 hosted a screening this month).
To further showcase the power of speaking up and combat the misrepresentation of mental illness, Be Vocal developed The Be Vocal Collection—offering media alternatives to the disparaging imagery currently available. The Collection featured 10 individuals from across the country living well with different mental health conditions, showing what mental health can look like when people get the support they need. It’s a great project to educate and help dismantle destructive stigmas.
You can join the movement to advance mental health by visiting BeVocalSpeakUp.com, which features information and assets for you to make a difference, including the Beyond Silence documentary, tips and tools for speaking up and online advocacy resources. Check out their social media advocacy tips, sign an online petition, and download a legislative letter template and send to your representatives.
Let’s start talking mental health and initiate much-needed change!
Be Vocal is partnership with Demi Lovato, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, The Jed Foundation, Mental Health America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Council for Behavioral Health and Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc.—encouraging all Americas to speak up for mental health. Learn more: www.bevocalspeakup.com .