Welcome to May. Today marks the start of Mental Health Month in the United States. To us, this month represents the progress we’ve made, the challenges we still face, and above all else, the people and the stories we are fighting for. This month exists because many people have yet to accept that mental health is worth our collective attention every month—because there’s a chance it might require yours every week, every hour, every breath.
The conversations that happen this month—or in any moment that we actively choose to challenge stigma—have the potential to get messy and minimized. There is no shortage of misunderstanding that threatens to steal the focus and dignity away from the conversation as we demand progress on behalf of those struggling. As it has been since the beginning, our mission is to encourage and inspire you to share your story with honesty and openness, to feel heard and supported.
In honor of Mental Health Month, we’re highlighting four statements we believe to be non-negotiable. These are words and ideas that have guided our mission since day one. To us, these statements are Black and White.
We Will Not Be Silent
Stigma exists when silence is the loudest voice in a conversation. It thrives when we are too frightened to speak up because remaining silent about our pain and our struggles has become the unspoken rule among our friends, families, and peers. And if we do go against the grain, we expect to be met with objection and ignorance. But when we let stigma win, we deny healing and the possibility for change, and the help people deserve. That you deserve.
In the face of damning and damaging narratives surrounding mental health, we will not be silent. We will use our voice as an invitation to see all the places our stories can collide, where we can work toward healing.
On behalf of your story and so many others’ lives and journeys, we will not be silent. We will continue to share stories and invite you to do the same. We will seek points of connection: to peers, to counselors, to coworkers, across borders and generation gaps. We will meet each other in all manner of ways, but never with silence.
People Need Other People
There is something beautiful at play as we grow and become our true selves. It’s a sacred dance of what makes us irreplaceably unique and what makes us uniquely dependent on others. People need compassion. We are the best version of ourselves in the presence of love. This is the place where healing can take place, whether it be in the presence of a friend, a counselor, or an entire community. Your journey deserves an audience that fills you with hope and encouragement. We believe that people need other people.
No matter if it is a moment of celebration and triumph or one of loss and defeat—a high, a low, or a quiet moment somewhere in between—you never need to be in it alone. You are deserving of other people’s time. You are deserving of other people’s respect. You are deserving of other people’s love. You will always need other people, and people will need you.
You Are Not Your Pain
You are so many things. A child. A creator. A dreamer. A better You than when you started this day. A story worth knowing, a voice worth hearing, a smile worth seeing, a reason this world—and the worlds of so many others—keeps spinning. You are so many things, but you are not your pain.
And while the hurdles along your path and the challenges you may face are pieces of the journey, they do not encompass all that you are. The pain you have felt did happen, it did exist—we are not trying to convince you otherwise—but that pain in no way defines what makes you essentially you. You are more than a collection of moments, good or bad, just as a story is more than just a collection of sentences. No one part can speak for a beautifully complex whole.
You are more than you could ever know, more than you could ever imagine, but you are not your pain.
Hope Is Defiant
As we challenge stigma and fight for those hurting, there is a good chance it will feel uncomfortable or even oppressive at times. But hope is defiant. Hope refuses to see growth denied, it refuses to be complacent with a sigh or shrug. Hope is confident that tomorrow does indeed exist. It is an evergreen reminder that things can get better if we try, if we fight, if we don’t give up.
You have embodied this hope already; just by waking up you have defied all the factors that have sought your story’s premature ending. There is a boldness in your breathing, a spark still within you that threatens the darkness you’ve known. And even on the days you don’t see it, know that we do. And know that we will always hold that hope for you.
Your story is important.
You are not alone.
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For local resources in your area, we invite you to visit our Find Help page here.