What Does #WorldMentalHealthDay Mean?

Four women entrepreneurs on what this day means to them.

Posted Oct 10, 2018

It wasn’t that long ago when seeing the words “entrepreneur” and “mental health” in the same sentence would have been unheard of. But now, entrepreneurs are vying to create solutions for mental health problems and talking about what they do to promote their own personal mental health.

From apps to jewelry to fashion and design, entrepreneurs, particularly women, are building awareness about mental illness and how to make mental health and well-being a regular part of life.

The efforts of these women show that stories are a big part of how people connect to each other and bring meaning into life, and their work often involves sharing parts of their stories, too. Here are the thoughts of four women entrepreneurs about what today, World Mental Health Day, means to them:

Jen Gotch, founder and Chief Creative Officer of ban.do:

“On World Mental Health Day, and everyday, I would encourage everyone to really think about the steps we can take as a community to open up honest conversations about mental health. It is so important to remove the stigmas associated with mental illness, educate ourselves, and develop empathy for those around us who also suffer. By doing so, we can get to a place where we feel comfortable asking for and receiving help, build emotional intelligence, lift each other up, and help those who are suffering feel less alone.”

Marah Lidey and Naomi Hirabayashi, co-founders of Shine:

“World Mental Health Day is awesome, but as a culture, we need more than a single day of the year to acknowledge something so important. If instead, we make a daily commitment to be more compassionate with ourselves and others, we'll crush the stigma that comes from talking about your mental health and build a more (honest and) compassionate world.”

Claire Mazur, co-founder of Of a Kind

“I love the idea of World Mental Health Day because it means that we're normalizing the idea of talking about mental health with one another. Being open about my struggles with anxiety and depression—and the solutions I've found like committing to exercise and therapy—has been a huge part of helping me manage it.”

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring the work of these women that aims to change how we think and talk about mental illness and mental health. As they each have said, it isn’t just about one day when we give attention to our well-being, but about changing culture so that talking about and making a difference in our mental health is as much a part of our lives as the things that we touch every day—our phones, jewelry, and clothes.

Just before I pushed "Publish" on this post, there were 435,535 posts on Instagram with the hashtag #worldmentalhealthday and everyone from @SenateDemocrats to the U.S. Navy to a lot of regular people who care about mental health were posting on Twitter using the hashtag. Sixty new tweets came up in the time it took me to write this paragraph. Posts on both platforms shared images, quotes, and personal words of wisdom and support, and I couldn't help but think how incredible it is to see so many people come together to say "it's okay not to be okay." 

What do you think it means that we're in a time where there can be such a public embrace of mental health? (As writer Ashley Womble said, "Now that there is a day for tacos, donuts, and everything in between, it’s easy to just gloss over World Mental Health Day as another hashtag.") 

How can you work to crush stigma, lift up someone else, or be more open about your own struggles today?

Will it be a beginning to making bigger change? 

Copyright 2018 Elana Premack Sandler, All Rights Reserved