#IAmStigmaFree – Are You?

NAMI and the Hope & Grace Initiative launch the StigmaFree campaign to combat mental health stigma 

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Consider this: 1 in 4 adults experience mental health issues in a year; 13.6 million Americans live with a serious mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, 1 
and only 41.3% of U.S. adults ever seek treatment for it due to the stigma.

Affecting more than 450 million people worldwide, it is clear that mental health issues are a pertinent problem in our society. Hopefully, today marks the beginning of the end of the stigma. In conjunction with May 1 being the advent of National Mental Health Awareness Month, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Hope & Grace Initiative are launching the StigmaFree campaign in New York City. The movement “will focus on embracing support and awareness for mental health by securing pledges from corporations, organizations, community leaders, and individuals to live stigma free including their support on social media with the hashtag #iamstigmafree.”

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The campaign is one of many Hope & Grace Initiatives, which represent the wellbeing beauty brand, philosophy’s, efforts to shatter stigmas associated with mental health issues. Since July 2014, philosophy has demonstrated its commitment to supporting women’s mental health by dedicating 1% of all sales to community-based organizations working to empower women through the promotion of mental health.

Complete with an advisory board comprised of forerunners in the mental health sector and philosophy company, the Hope & Grace Initiative is taking serious efforts to devise change in the mental health community. Below, philosophy tells Urban Agenda more about this groundbreaking movement in the beauty industry.

Can you explain the hope & grace initiative and why it’s so important to philosophy? 

With the initiativephilosophy becomes the first company to place a deep focus on mental health and wellbeing.  In addition, philosophy becomes the first major skin care and fragrance brand to make a brand-wide commitment to dedicate at least 1% of its sales toward charity.  “Health of the mind, often invisible to the world, has never been treated with quite the same understanding or compassion as other current women’s affairs issues,” said Dr. Belisa Vranich, hope & grace Founding Advisory Board Member, Clinical Psychologist and Author. “My personal mission, and that of this board, is to lessen the stigma around mental health.”

What do you think sets the hope & grace initiative apart from other companies who donate some of their proceeds to a philanthropic cause?

With the initiativephilosophy becomes the first company to place a deep focus on mental   health and wellbeing.  In addition, philosophy becomes the first major skin care and fragrance brand to make a brand-wide commitment to dedicate at least 1% of its sales toward charity. “We are dedicated to changing the landscape of philanthropic efforts in the beauty industry by supporting community-based mental health efforts through these impactful grants,” Jill Scalamandre, Senior Vice President, philosophy brand and Chief Marketing Officer – Skincare, at Coty.

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What has been the response to the initiative?  Have you seen any changes in the stigma against mental health since launching it?

The hope & grace initiative is still in its early stages and our first round of grant recipients were announced this month, which include CONNECT (New York, NY), Prototypes (Los Angeles, CA), South Brevard Women’s Center (Melbourne, FL), Western Massachusetts Training Consortium (Greenfield, MA) and Women’s Shelter Program of San Luis Obispo County (San Luis Obispo, CA). The selected organization’s proposed projects were identified by the hope & grace advisory board with having a strong alignment with the hope & grace fund’s priorities of providing access to mental health services for a diverse group of women.

Why did philosophy decide to support mental illness versus other causes?  Is there any type of personal story behind the initiative? Do you think the beauty industry is lacking in philanthropic initiatives?

Beyond the brand’s funding, philosophy seeks to empower its consumers, employees, retail and supply chain partners to join in the mental health and wellbeing movement by providing opportunities to raise global awareness of the issues, learn about and support effective organizations and provide resources to bring renewed hope to their own lives and to the lives of loved ones.

Explain how the philosophy products relate to the initiative.  Do the encouraging words printed on the packaging of your product somehow reflect what the products do?

philosophy is a well-being beauty brand that inspires women to look, live, and feel their best. The words on the packaging of philosophy products uplift and nourish the spirit, and inspire beautiful days so women everywhere can feel confident in their unique inner and outer beauty.

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What are some of the upcoming hope & grace events to look for? 

philosophy partnered with Each Mind Matters: California’s Mental Health Movement (EMM) to create the We Are The Movement For Mental Health PSA that brings celebrities including Pamela Anderson, Lorraine Bracco, Andy Dick, Morgan Stewart, Grace Gealey, Shanola Hampton and more, together to be the catalyst for change in the movement to end the stigma around mental health.

To show your support for mental health awareness month, join Witherspoon Media Group in using the #iamstigmafree hashtag on social media and make yourself even more beautiful with philosophy products.

  1. Hope & Grace Media Press Release & National Alliance on Mental Health, “Mental Illness Facts and Figures” (2013). www.nami.org/factsheets/mentalillness_factsheet.pdf
  2. Hope & Grace Media Press Release &National Institute of Mental Health, “Depression in Women”, (1999). mentalhealthamerica.net.