American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Instagram Launch Mental Health Campaign #RealConvo

Contact: Alexis O’Brien, PR Director, 347-826-3577, [email protected]

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Instagram Launch Mental Health Campaign #RealConvo

NEW YORK (May 2, 2019) – In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is launching a public awareness campaign with Instagram called #RealConvo that aims to inspire people to share their personal mental health experiences, and find supportive communities – both on and offline. Additionally, on May 9, AFSP and Instagram are partnering with SELF and Teen Vogue for a live panel held at the Instagram New York City office to support the initiative.

For the campaign kickoff today, the @AFSPnational Instagram channel will post a dedicated “grid takeover” on its  account, featuring video stories of nine people using their voice to empower others to be themselves on social media and speak openly about their mental health. Each person featured in the program is taking a stand against the concept that social media is only a place for posting your perfect highlights — that instead, it can be a place for authentic moments, including sharing life’s ups and downs, having conversations about struggles with mental health, and discovering support and community in the process. The space on AFSP’s Instagram account — and the individual stories featured — serve as a resource to support the community using Instagram to connect and share their experiences.

Some early contributors to the #RealConvo Instagram campaign on @AFSPnational include:

  • Sasha Pieterse: Sasha, the 23-year-old star from Pretty Little Liars and The Perfectionists, uses her platform to talk about the importance of realness and authenticity.
  • Donte Colley: Donte is a 21-year-old who uses his platform to share uplifting dance videos to inspire positive mental health.
  • Jazmine Alcon: Jazmine is a 19-year-old student and founder of Risen Zine, a magazine made by teens for teens interested and passionate about social justice issues and youth empowerment. She believes that building communities and being willing to have difficult but real conversations is the key to creating change.
  • Gabby Frost: Gabby is a 21-year-old mental health advocate, social entrepreneur, public speaker, and college student. She is the founder and CEO of @BuddyProject, a non-profit organization aiming to prevent suicide by pairing people as buddies and raising awareness for mental health.
  • Elyse Fox & Kelvin Hamilton: Elyse Fox is the founder of @SadGirlsClub, the largest millennial led non-profit mental health organization. Her mission is to connect communities and spread awareness through vulnerability and storytelling. Kelvin Hamilton (widely known under the pen name, Jocko Graves) is a multidisciplinary artist in New York City. No stranger to the pressures and prejudices packaged as a “black masculinity,” Hamilton continues to find solace in love and art and is extremely excited to launch @SadBoysOrg, alongside his partner Elyse Fox.
  • Jari Jones: Jari is a black transgender actress, curve model, activist and creative who focuses on fashion within politics, body positivity, mental health and wellness and LGBTQ community building and relationships.
  • Sydney Magruder: Sydney is a professional ballet dancer, singer and actress chasing her dream in New York City. She is an advocate for fellow autistic people as well as artists who struggle with their mental health.
  • Vivian Nunez: Vivian is a writer and the founder of @2damnyoung, a community for young adults who get what it’s like to lose someone they love. She works to put words out into the universe that make people feel less alone as they navigate mental health realities, grief, and learning to find happy, new normals.
  • Chef Roro: Chef Roro runs a food truck and restaurant in the Washington, D.C. area. When he’s not cooking or working out, he gives his time towards spreading a positive message about mental health and masculinity.

Normalizing conversations on mental health is a community-wide effort. That’s why some of the most important organizations for mental health have joined the #RealConvo movement: JED Foundation, an organization that aims to protect emotional wellness and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults, collaborated on @gabbyfrost’s video; and Born This Way Foundation, an organization committed to supporting the wellness of young people and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world, helped amplify the video from Sydney, @theblackswandiaries.

“As the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, we hear from people across the United States that they know when they should be reaching out, but don’t know how to take it to that deeper level and have a real conversation about mental health. People are ready to talk about mental health in a more honest way, whether it means reaching out when they need help, or when they notice someone in their lives is struggling. And today’s culture celebrates authenticity and values deeper connections in our relationships. So we believe the time is right to provide them with the resources to start these conversations,” said Dr. Christine Moutier, the chief medical officer of AFSP. “We are not asking people to take the place of mental health professionals – we are asking them to play their own role by supporting and connecting those in need to the help that is available. By doing this, we know we can save lives.”

The panel hosted by AFSP, Instagram, SELF and Teen Vogue, on May 9 will bring #RealConvo to life through a discussion about the importance of having and inspiring deeper, and more genuine conversations about mental health. Moderated by Teen Vogue, identity editor, Brittney McNamara, panelists will include mental health advocates Jari Jones, Kelvin Hamilton, and Gabby Frost as well as AFSP’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Christine Moutier, and SELF editor-in-chief, Carolyn Kylstra. The panel will be livestreamed at 5:45 p.m. EST on Teen Vogue’s Facebook page, and SELF’s Facebook Page.

On May 22, @AFSPnational will also be moderating a Twitter chat from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., EST on the topic of “How to Have a #RealConvo About Mental Health”. This chat will be co-hosted by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, the JED Foundation, Active Minds, Born This Way Foundation, Mental Health America, and the Crisis Text Line. Join using the hashtag #RealConvo.

Over the past year, AFSP has also collected stories about real conversations people had and what kind of positive effect it had on their lives. These stories will be shared on AFSP’s Facebook page (@AFSPnational) and through AFSP’s blog.

Additional resources for the campaign are available through on online toolkit, where there are also downloadable videos, and illustrations from a variety of artists on what having a real conversation about mental health looks like.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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