There's a good reason why IFHP's mission is to spread awareness of mental health issues. That's because there is still so much stigma attached to mental illness - those of us who suffer are routinely made to feel "other" by society. We're pushed to the fringes, excluded, degraded. We're told that we're "not normal." Here's a secret: Normal doesn't exist. There's no one ideal to reach for. Every one of us is beautifully unique, and sometimes that beauty comes with cracks and blemishes. That damage is nothing to be ashamed of, and the only way to get this message to the world is to talk about mental illness. Not just in general - in specific, by telling our own stories.
I found an article written by blogger Lexie Manion at The Mighty, who shared her story about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was already starting to look for other sources so I could write about the importance of sharing our stories. Less than ten minutes into my reading, our CEO Taylor asked if I would write something up about our first donation selection, Bring Change to Mind. I couldn't believe what a perfect fit this was, not only for my planned blog post, but for IFHP as a company. BC2M's mission is "to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness." Sound familiar? As I read through their website, I saw headers like "Start the Conversation" and "Amplify Voices." I saw phrases like "give a voice to others." They have a PSA titled "How to talk about mental health with anyone." I can't imagine a better fit for IFHP.
“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation about illnesses that affect not only individuals, but their families as well.” - Glenn Close, actress and co-founder of Bring Change to Mind
Bring Change to Mind has published a series of PSAs which have been viewed over six billion times. Yes, with a 'B'. They've also partnered with 180 schools in 16 states to develop student-led high school mental health clubs. BC2M works at the high school and college undergrad levels to bring mental health conversations into the open and remove the stigma surrounding illness.
As a member of the IFHP team, I'm incredibly excited that our first round of donations will go to such an amazing and worthy organization (and one that shares our core values, to boot.) As an individual who lives with mental illness, I'm grateful to BC2M and other organizations like them for the unbelievably important work they do to make me feel less like an outsider.
Check out Bring Change to Mind and see what they're all about. Don't be afraid or ashamed to talk about mental illness. Together, we can all walk out of the shadows of stigma. Together, we can begin to heal.