Social activist and iconic fashion designer Kenneth Cole, has announced the launch of The Mental Health Coalition (MHC), the first collaborative effort of this scale which convenes and unites the leading US mental health organizations, creative and media platforms, passionate advocates, as well as celebrities working collectively to destigmatize mental health conditions and address the pervasive public health crisis.

The Coalition launches with an online platform and digital resource guide, www.thementalhealthcoalition.org and an interactive storytelling platform www.howareyoureally.org.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, mental illness was already one of the world’s most pressing public health concerns, affecting hundreds of millions of people. According to the WHO, 1 in 4 people globally will be affected by a mental health condition; however, we know that 4 out of 4 are in fact significantly impacted by them.

With millions now forced into quarantine, the magnitude of this compounds significantly. Studies have shown that physical distancing and stress related to the coronavirus crisis are having an increasing impact on mental health, amplifying the urgency for this initiative.

It is critical, now more than ever, that we come together to promote acceptance, inspire hope and destigmatize mental mealth conditions. The Mental Health Coalition platform will be a place where individuals seeking help or guidance can access resources from our partners and better understand ways to discuss mental health.

“This is a critical moment in time. The collective consciousness from the pandemic has created an unprecedented urgency to address the crisis now,” states Founder and Chairman of The Mental Health Coalition, Kenneth Cole. I am proud to bring together a community of the most impactful mental health service providers in the country, leading academics, creative, media, and business leaders with the common goal of changing the mental health narrative in a way that will empower rather than diminish those individuals living with Mental Health conditions. We are aligned with the goal of ending the related devastating stigma. I believe that together we can end the stigma, but only together."

The visual identity of www.thementalhealthcoalition.org was created by Paula Scher at the internationally acclaimed design firm Pentagram and features a “square peg in a round hole” to represent that there is no “normal” when it comes to mental health and that everybody fits. The coalition is introducing this icon in the hopes that it will become the global symbol for mental health. The icon also appears in the branding Scher created for “How Are You, Really?”.

The new proprietary www.howareyoureally.org, will use digital storytelling to create and share stories crafted with a focus on language, lived experiences and advice for mental health, self-care and coping strategies. The effort will leverage the voices of celebrities, influencers and advocates, and popular culture to discuss mental health in an open, authentic and provocative way. The platform is conceived and coordinated by Catie Cole, Co-Founder, CTO & Content Director of The Mental Health Coalition. Research has shown that authentic storytelling can reduce stigma and barriers to help-seeking for people who are struggling or living with mental health conditions. The “How Are You, Really?” initiative creates safe spaces for anyone to be vulnerable, authentic, empathetic and hopeful by sharing their truth and experiencing other people’s stories. This interactive process facilitates understanding and empowers individuals to speak up and access resources and support. We believe that participants will be a part of a life-changing, coordinated effort that will encourage and support an open and honest expression that will ultimately destigmatize mental health conditions.

The initiative prompts the most universally and commonly asked question and also the question rarely answered, ‘How Are You, Really?’. This initiative challenges people to answer this as honestly as they are able, allowing themselves to be vulnerable, empathic, and/or anywhere in between. By individuals sharing their truth about how they really feel, there is much scientific and anecdotal evidence that it will be healing for them and at the same time will support and inspire many others who are living with a mental health condition. We believe that participants will be a part of a life-changing, coordinated effort that will encourage and support an open and honest expression ultimately destigmatize mental health conditions.

The challenge will be launched by posting your video and then challenging others to authentically answer that same question “How are you, really?,” and sharing their stories at www.howareyoureally.org and on Instagram and Twitter.
In addition, iHeartMedia, the number one audio company in the United States, will air a series of PSAs across its 850+ radio stations beginning today through the end of the month that encourages participation in the challenge. The series of radio spots will feature on-air personalities including Ryan Seacrest, Steve Harvey, Bobby Bones and Elvis Duran.

Participants supporting the challenge include Arielle Kebbel, Cheyenne Jackson, Chris Cuomo, Deepak Chopra, Elizabeth Chambers, Hunter McGrady, Kesha, Mayim Bialik, Oliver Platt, Michael Strahan, Stanley Tucci, Whoopi Goldberg and many more.

The leading mental health organizations joining this important endeavor include:
Active Minds
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
Bring Change to Mind
Child Mind Institute
Crisis Text Line
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services
Fountain House
Headstrong Project
Mental Health America
Mindful Philanthropy
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Council for Behavioral Health
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)
The Jed Foundation
The Steve Fund
The Trevor Project
UCLA Depression Grand Challenge
Vibrant Emotional Health
Well Being Trust

Creative partners that helped to bring The Mental Health Coalition to life include Ad Council, iHeartMedia, Kenneth Cole Productions, Lift, Oberland, Pentagram, Prinkshop and more.

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