With the paralyzing effects COVID has had on the world thus far, the line separating emotional awareness from mental illness is blurring at a rate that can no longer be contained. If there is one thing the pandemic has taught us about mental health illness specifically, is that it does not discriminate, nor is anyone exempt from it. Professionals in the field estimate that 2 in 5 individuals (US-based) reported having some form of the condition in just the past year alone. And given how destructive the pandemic has been to date, it’s no surprise that more and more people are coming out of the woodworks with their own tales of emotional turmoil; be it a silent cry for help or to humanize the issue with talks of how they’ve learned to cope. Through the amplification of its “OK to Not Feel OK” campaign, urbancoolab is aiming to increase awareness around the topic, while shining a light on what signs to look for in someone who may be struggling with demons of their own.
Key Stats to take note of (figures provided by NAMI):
- An estimated 51.5 million people have experienced mental health issues in the United States
- 7.7 million people aged between 7-17 experienced a mental health disorder
- 13.1 million people have undergone some serious form of mental disorder
The Ripple Effect of mental illness:
- People with depression have a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases than the general population
- 18.4% of U.S. adults with mental illness also experienced a substance use disorder in 2019 (9.5 million individuals)
- High school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers
Much like the campaign’s text reads, “OK to Not Feel OK” is a reminder to accept all that you are and all that you feel by acknowledging the truths that arise from deep within. As such, urbancoolab will leverage its ties to the arts, fashion, music and fitness communities to better amplify its message of awareness and self-healing. Through the power of its partner members, urbancoolab hopes to uncover the subtle nuances of the illness and how to best address it when the need arises.
Take acclaimed singer/songwriter, Shamir, for instance. The “accidental pop star” has spoken out publicly about his bipolar disorder, explaining how it has affected his ability to live life as an artist. urbancoolab recently partnered up with Shamir to co-create his thematic “Bipolar Butterfly” capsule collection; a symbolic metaphor lifting him to a heightened state of acceptance. A portion of the proceeds from the collection will be donated to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), a non-profit organization near and dear to the artist’s heart. Shamir has proven himself to be more than a purveyor of cutting-edge pop tunes, but a voice of change who stands for issues that impede personal freedoms.
To help normalize discussions around mental illness, urbancoolab thought to organize a chat between the acclaimed musician and Over The Bridge—a Toronto-based non-profit dedicated to helping industry professionals deal with mental health issues and addiction recovery goals. Both sides sat down for a one-on-one chat about some of the stereotypes often attributed with the condition. In the live Instagram session, Shamir reminisced on the journey he took to get where he is today, and touched on the support system he had in place to help cushion his fall.
Lastly, urbancoolab thought to tie in the campaign’s core messaging through a thematic capsule collection. urbancoolab toyed with the idea of strength and longevity, turning to the world of flora for artistic inspiration. Known primarily as one the most resilient plants on planet earth, the ginkgo biloba contains regenerative qualities that make it a key ingredient in numerous medicinal and culinary concoctions. With that said, the ginkgo biloba will feature heavily throughout urbancoolab’s “OkToNotFeelOk” capsule collection, finding a home on a carefully-curated selection of tees. The AI-led platform will follow in the footsteps of its partner members and will donate a portion of sales to a reputable organization who can help amplify the cause and message. 50% of all proceeds will go to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). You can shop the collection at urbancoolx.com.
For more on Shamir and his inspirational journey, be sure to check out his feature story here. Meanwhile, to learn more about Over The Bridge and its ongoing fight to mitigate mental health illness, check out the recent Lost Tapes of the 27 Club Livestream event.