In honor of World Mental Health Day, NAMI Westside Los Angeles launched its FREE YOUR ME anti-stigma mental health campaign on Sunday, October 10 with a swell of synchronized social media posts by notable actors, athletes, musicians and top content creators.

Along with partners Two Feet South and Pure Edge Inc., NAMI West LA created the ongoing campaign to highlight the power of words when it comes to mental health awareness—but more importantly, to send the message to our youth community that they are not alone.

Among the group of high-profile personalities who raised their voices in support of the campaign were multiple-award winning actors and entertainers Jane Seymour, Derek Hough, John C. McGinley, AnnaLynne McCord and DeWanda Wise, along with lauded sports figures including Laird Hamilton, Gabby Reece, Danica Patrick, Joakim Noah and Paul Rabil. Some shared deeply personal stories of loved ones who suffered with mental health challenges and having lost them to suicide, while others spoke about their own struggles with mental health, and encouraged their audience to shed the shame of speaking out and asking for help.

“Today is World Mental Health Day,” said Jane Seymour. “Having had so many people in my life suffer from untreated or undiagnosed issues, PTSD, and of course the tragedy of addiction, I feel very strongly about taking the idea of shame away and making help available.” Derek Hough posted, “I’ve always been passionate about mental health. More than ever we need to use tools and support to help us navigate and understand our emotional and mental states. Let us all be there for one another and for ourselves.”

Professional Lacrosse player Paul Rabil shared, “As athletes we perform our best when we know how to embrace the lows, highs and everywhere in between. On this World Mental Health Day, I’m joining the National Alliance on Mental Health FREE YOUR METM team of athletes to help elevate mental health awareness through imagery, messaging and fundraising. We hope people feel more inclined to access help, especially our youth, without fear or shame…”

FREE YOUR ME is part of NAMI West LA’s mission to provide mental health education and support to as many children and youth as possible. That mission grew further into focus when CA Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senate Bill 224 this past Friday, October 8. The bill, authored by State Senator Anthony Portantino (a FREE YOUR ME Ambassador), and co-sponsored by NAMI California, will provide millions of California students with age-appropriate mental health education from qualified instructors.

“California is in the midst of a youth behavioral health crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Portantino. “We need to keep these critical policies moving forward and end the stigma surrounding the discussion of mental health. Mental health education and training is one of the best ways to increase awareness and empower students to seek help.” NAMI Westside Los Angeles Executive Director, Erin Raftery-Ryan adds, “The pandemic has revealed that we are not doing enough to protect the mental health of our children and youth. Now more than ever, we must ensure that our children and youth learn about mental health and get the support and care they need.” Raftery-Ryan continues, “We must work together on early intervention and prevention and provide as much support for youth mental health as we do for physical health. We thank Governor Newsom for signing Sen. Anthony Portantino’s SB 224 bill to provide students with more mental health education.” SB 224 was introduced earlier this year and reflects NAMI California and Senator Portantino’s dedication to improving mental health outcomes for youth.

For more info on SB 224, click here.

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