How Philosophy Brought Hope and Grace During Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness month arrived this May with particular poignancy, on the heels of another year of pandemic lockdowns, work-life breakdowns, financial stress, and anxiety. Indeed, over 450 million people across the globe right now suffer from mild to critical mental health issues, and over 13 million Americans live with a serious mental illness such […]

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Photo courtesy of Sista Afya Community Care
Photo courtesy of Sista Afya Community Care

Mental Health Awareness month arrived this May with particular poignancy, on the heels of another year of pandemic lockdowns, work-life breakdowns, financial stress, and anxiety.

Indeed, over 450 million people across the globe right now suffer from mild to critical mental health issues, and over 13 million Americans live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder. And while prior to 2020 one in five adults in the U.S. reported having a mental health condition, according to the CDC that number now may be two in five, or higher.

Or higher.

The statistics are staggering and personal. Most of us know someone suffering from unmet mental health needs, and we do not always know where to turn, what to say or how to help.

But one company does. And they have been helping for years.

Philosophy, the wellness brand rightly placed at the intersection of science and inspiration, has been directing a percentage of every product sold to community-based mental health support organizations through an initiative called hope & grace.

Wait, it gets better.

Since the campaign’s launch seven years ago, hope & grace has donated nearly $5.7 million by way of 97 unique grants to 79 organizations, specifically supporting the mental health needs of close to 1.8 million women.

How did this start?

“Philosophy was created to help women live better lives through more than just products,” explains Margot Humbert, SVP Global, philosophy. “Expanding the brand’s philosophy to the hope & grace initiative in 2014 was a natural extension. Through the hope & grace initiative, every product sold helps us support community-based mental health organizations with financial grants focused on empowering women through the prevention and treatment of mental health related issues.”

Who has it helped?

Think organizations like Florence Crittendon Services, a Denver non-profit whose mission is to educate, prepare and empower teen mothers and their children.

“Mental health care is perhaps the biggest need facing teen mothers and families right now,” notes Suzanne Banning, President & CEO, Florence Crittenton Services. “[T]he majority of the young moms we serve have suffered some form of abuse, neglect or household dysfunction, which not only contributed to their unintended pregnancy but also hinders their ability to thrive as young adults.”

“These experiences often contribute to significant mental health challenges,” Banning continues, “including depression, anxiety, addictive behaviors and thoughts of suicide.”

During the last year of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased social isolation and economic crises have aggravated these already-existing mental health challenges…Thanks to the philosophy hope & grace initiative grant, Florence Crittenton Services has been able to continue offering one-on-one mental health support for the teen moms we serve.

Suzanne Banning

Camesha L. Jones, LCSW Founder & Executive Director of Sista Afya Community Care agrees. An organization dedicated to providing low-cost mental health services to Black women, Sista Afya employs a community support approach to mental wellness. “Through the philosophy hope & grace grant,” Jones explains, “we are able to provide free individual therapy and wellness classes to women of color through our Thrive in Therapy program. The Thrive in Therapy program specifically provides mental health care to people experiencing multiple barriers to care.”

The hope & grace grant allows us to support women with their mental health by advancing mental health equity and access to any woman that needs it through holistic, culturally-centered mental wellness services.

Camesha L. Jones
Photo courtesy of Downtown Women’s Center

For many organizations, a hope & grace grant can mean the difference between opening and closing their doors. “The philosophy hope & grace initiative helps fund our Day Center,” emphasizes Morgan Harman, Mental Health Clinician for Downtown Women’s Center, “[which is] the only drop-in center for unhoused women in Skid Row. Here, women can access meals, bathrooms, showers, housing navigation, and case management, as well as a number of trauma-informed, gender-specific mental and physical health services.”

We serve thousands of women every year and their stories have taught us that regaining housing is really about healing. It’s about overcoming as a community the violence, trauma, and resulting health disparities that cause and exacerbate homelessness for so many women in Los Angeles.

Morgan Harman

And receiving a hope & grace grant has helped others to expand their missions, at a time when growth and optimism seemed entirely out of reach.

“Receiving the philosophy hope & grace initiative grant has allowed us to further our mission through the growth of programs like Soul Sessions,” offers Brianne Patrice, Executive Director, Sad Girls Club enthusiastically, “[which is our] version of group counseling and Body Party, a virtual session led by a facilitator through movement and dance. The two have seen exponential growth and we are soon hoping to expand Soul Sessions to include 1:1 therapy.”

As we head into our ‘new normal’ with the world opening back up, post-pandemic we are working on more in-person events that will replicate our most recent event ‘Love Ya From A Distance,’ which was a socially distant hike up to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. We are using this event as a catalyst to bring back our Run Club. We are gearing up for our Juneteenth event and are furthering our initiatives to include a comprehensive Sex Ed program in partnership with black-owned businesses like Twenty Nine Thirty.

Brianne Patrice

Growth. Optimism. Hope.

Words not typically associated with the second Mental Health Awareness Month to occur in a global pandemic, but the core of philosophy’s mission has brought us here. What does it feel like to be associated with a brand that takes mental wellbeing so seriously and can boast such meaningful success?

“Even with the recent attention on mental health in the current climate,” assures philosophy’s Margot Humbert, “there is still work to be done to normalize conversations around mental health. I believe mental health impacts us all in different ways and is a critical topic. It is great to be part of a brand that is working to help people on a deeper level and make a meaningful impact in such a fundamental category of wellbeing.”

A philosophy worth having, and worth sharing. As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, let’s hold fast to these words and reach out to each other.

Because where there is help and hope, there is grace.

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