January 19, 2011

Love is Louder: A Reminder About Continuing the Movement

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jeremy @ 8:30 am

As I was catching up with my morning news yesterday, a news article caught my eye.  Sadly, this type of story is – still – all too common.

I’m sure most of you remember what happened last September.  After a slew of tragic suicides attributed to instances of bullying, a couple anti-bullying campaigns were born including our partner Love is Louder.  While we all came together following those saddening events last fall, there is still so much more to do.  The events that took place this past weekend are two of many that have occurred since September.

Similar to how we came together in September, as well as during last week’s depressing turn of events surrounding Representative Gifford and the other Tuscon victims, we need to continue to work as one united community when combating bullying.  If you see someone being bullied, go up to the victim and offer them a listening ear or crying shoulder.  Make sure they get the help they need, and encourage them to call 800-273-TALK if they need help.  If you are bullied, find a family member, friend, teacher, administrator, etc. to talk to.  Trust me, it can make a world of difference.

Always remember: there are people out there who care greatly about you and want you to succeed in life.  Love is Louder than bullying. Love is Louder than hatred. Love is Louder than bigotry. Love is Louder than all negativity.


December 24, 2010

Creating a Community Throughout the Holidays

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Jeremy @ 8:30 am

We hear all the time that the holidays can be a difficult time for a lot of folks. The weight of missing lost love ones or the depressing thoughts that come from living in a down economy where you can’t go all out for your family with presents can make someone want to wish the holiday season would pass as fast as humanly possible.

A lot of us (myself included) cling to false ideals. We believe that there is such a thing as a perfect life. The photo you see above is of my family and I – my mother’s parents, sister, and her children – taken last Christmas. The message I wanted to convey with this photo is, yes, we are a very happy family. However, there has been a fair share of arguments and problems within our relationships. We have had our share of struggles within the family, but we got through them with the help of others.

Why am I bringing all of this up? I want you to remember that everyone struggles at some point in life. For some, it’s a life-long struggle while for others it might only be an acute occurrence. At any given point in time you have no idea what your friends, your family, or your neighbors might be going through.

During this holiday season, I implore you to be there for others or reach out for help if you need it. Open your doors to your neighbors and friends; invite them to have a meal with you over the next week; get coffee with your neighbor who just lost a spouse; walk over to your neighbor’s help for a listening ear; say “hi” to the next person who passes by…

…Form a true community. I promise you, these acts of kindness will not go unnoticed, especially during the holiday season.

November 19, 2010

What a Weekend!

“No change can happen without action.” ~ Glenn Close at the Society for Neuroscience Conference

Although this past weekend was an exciting one for many reasons, on Saturday November 13, 2010 something huge happened – a game changer, if you will.  It is something that can, and most likely will, create a future in which shame is replaced with dignity, misinformation with truth, discrimination with understanding, and isolation with community.  Can anyone guess what I’m talking about now?  If not, then you’re probably not a fan of BringChange2Mind on Facebook (which you should be), but if you can, then you’ve been paying attention to your Facebook page or reading the Huffington Post!

So, what happened this past weekend?  Well, Glenn Close – along with her sister Jessie Close and nephew, Calen Pick – were asked to open the Society for Neuroscience’s 2010 Conference as the “Dialogues Between Neuroscience and Society” keynote speakers.  At the end of their fabulous speech, Glenn, Jessie and Calen launched…(drum roll, please)…The BringChange2Mind Principles!

What are The BringChange2Mind Principles?  You can read about them here but, if you want me to quickly explain them, I guess I can do that too.  In the past, various organizations have made commitments to change their policies and behavior, which includes altering discriminatory practices in South Africa by signing the Sullivan Principles, ensuring equality for the LGBTQ community by becoming Signatories to the Equality Principles, and caring for the environment by adhering to the CERES Principles. It is in this spirit of positive change that the BringChange2Mind Principles will make a real difference for people in their families, workplaces, and communities.

After the exciting launch of The BringChange2Mind Principles Glenn, Jessie and Calen sat down for a Q+A with Dr. Michael Goldberg, President of the Society for Neuroscience, and Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute for Mental Health.  This casual conversation focused on ways to de-stigmatize mental illness in our society, how the new principles can help fight the stigma, and the ways in which scientific research can help in this fight.  They also took questions from the audience.

The most interesting thing I’d like to point out is the fact that there seemed to be more comments than questions.  They came in the form of resounding support for Glenn, Jessie, Calen and the whole BringChange2Mind organization.  Now, I know most of you are used to getting tons of encouragement about your advocacy work from those around you, but it’s incredible to hear it from the people who are doing advocacy work from a different perspective – from people who are in the laboratories finding ways to possibly prevent mental health concerns like depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

Aside from the epic launch of The BringChange2Mind Principles, Glenn, Jessie and Calen also spoke on Friday night at the International Bipolar Foundation’s event, “An Evening of Change with Glenn Close & Jessie Close”.  The Close Family decided to speak from the heart on Friday night and focused on the importance of family when addressing mental illness, and their journey with BringChange2Mind.  The night ended with a “Fund-a-Need”, which helped raise money for the International Bipolar Foundation and BringChange2Mind.

Overall, the weekend was a huge success. The Close Family was able to meet incredible people ranging from the top neuroscientists to dedicated mental health advocates; they were able to connect with the individuals who they fight for on a daily basis; and, what I think is the biggest feat, Glenn, Jessie and Calen were able to launch The BringChange2Mind Principles in front of an audience of thousands of people.

Speaking of The BringChange2Mind Principles, have you taken the pledge?  If not, I encourage you all to go here and take the first step towards decreasing the stigma surrounding mental illness.

September 26, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to Boston…

Filed under: Story — Tags: , , , — Jeremy @ 6:23 pm

Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.  ~William James

It happened a couple of weeks ago, but it’s an anecdote that’s been on my mind since.  It’s something I think I can easily relate back to Linea’s last post Community Engagement: How You Can Change A Mind, as well as the point of this post.  Personally, I was quite impressed with what I had seen.  Alright – you’re probably thinking “enough already, tell us what happened” – so I will…

About two weeks ago I was driving back to Boston from New York.  It was about 7:00pm so it was fairly dark out already – dark enough that you wouldn’t be able to see a car in your rearview mirror.  As I was driving along the highway a minivan quickly came up behind me and switched lanes.  The fact that they were going fast didn’t scare me (they were probably going 85 MPH), nor did the fact that they probably had kids in the car scare me (I mean, it was a minivan).  What scared me most was that they didn’t have their headlights on.

As quickly as I realized it, I started blinking my high beams at the car to no avail.  For one reason or another, they didn’t realize that they were practically driving blindly – not aware of what might lie ahead.  Thankfully the car directly ahead saw me frantically flashing my high beams and eventually realized why.  In turn, that car threw their hazard lights on as the minivan started passing to the left and, like teamwork, the driver of the minivan finally threw on their lights.

I’m not telling you this story because I wanted to talk about bad drivers, minivans, or headlights (I think that would be a pretty boring post).  I told this story because I think it’s closely related to what we at BringChange2Mind like to talk about – helping others in our community.

We sometimes forget what it means to help others.  It doesn’t always need to be an extravagant gesture, but can be things as simple as holding the door open for those behind you or helping an elderly person up some stairs.  No matter what the act is, you should always try to be there for those in need.

I’ll leave you with three things you should always try to remember:

  1. Care about others, no matter how close you are to them
  2. Be there for them night or day
  3. Have a willingness to help

You never know when your actions could mean more to that person than you thought.

September 9, 2010

Take 5 Minutes to Educate Yourself (and Others)

“As anyone who has been close to someone that has committed suicide knows, there is no other pain like that felt after the incident” ~ Peter Greene


Most of you probably know this, but for those who don’t, tomorrow (Friday, September 10th) is World Suicide Prevention Day.  In fact, all this week – from September 6th – 11th – is National Suicide Prevention Week.  Why should we make a whole day out of suicide prevention?  Wait, a better question is why should there be a week dedicated to suicide?  Here’s why…

  • 11: suicide is the 11th cause of death for all Americans in 2007*
  • 34,000+: the number of people took their own lives in 2007
  • 1 in 15: in 2007, 1 suicide occurred every 15 minutes
  • 376,306: the number of people treated in Emergency Departments for intentional, nonfatal self-inflicted injuries in 2008
  • ~1,100: approximately 1,100 college students took their own lives on campuses across the country
  • 2: suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among 25-34 year olds

Now that I’ve laid out the facts for you, here’s how you can help yourself, a family member, friend, or even a complete stranger in need.  I encourage you to read the details of each step on Take 5 to Save Lives, a campaign produced by the National Council for Suicide Prevention:

  1. Learn the signs**
  2. Join the movement
  3. Spread the word (via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  4. Support a friend
  5. Reach out

For a list of additional resources, I urge you to go to the Find Help page on our website If you know of anymore resources, I encourage you to use the comment section to educate other people about them.

Remember, when a family member or friend reaches out to you for help, you should always be there for them.  The fact that they are trying to get your attention means they really need a helping hand.  Help yourself, and them, by learning the signs and joining the movement. During Suicide Prevention Week, take it upon yourself to spend 5 minutes learning how you can help someone who is in need.

Also, be aware of your surroundings and the people you regularly pass in the hallways of your school or office, the courtyard on your campus, or the cashier at your local coffee shop or grocery store.  You never know when you might meet someone showing signs of depression or suicidal ideations.  These tips can – and, at some point, will – come in handy.  We owe it to each other to live life with our eyes wide open, ensuring that everyone we meet has someone to talk to.

*Statistics were found on a PDF from the CDC’s website | **Steps were found on Take 5 to Save Lives

September 2, 2010

Those life changing moments

Filed under: Story, Youth — Tags: , , , , , — Jeremy @ 12:23 pm

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” ~Bill Clinton

First, let me introduce myself.  My name is Jeremy, and I recently started volunteering for BringChange2Mind.  In December I graduated from UConn with a B.A. in Political Science, and immediately started working for a start-up company as the Director of Marketing.  More importantly, I’ve been a mental health advocate since 2003. Here’s my story:

2:00AM, December 2003, Sophomore year of high school.  I remember it like it was yesterday…

One of my bedroom windows was open, allowing a breezy chill sneak through the room.  I was sitting at my computer with two of my closest friends and, as most high schoolers do, we were fooling around on the internet and chatting with friends online.  I was seated at my computer doing the typing as Matt and my other friend were intermittently dictating what I should type.

We were suddenly interrupted by a startling message from one of our close friends – who I’ll call Lauren.

We had always known Lauren had things going on in her life that made it hard for her to be happy.  I can’t go into details, but various forms of abuse and her strive for “perfection” – fueled by her parents – were the obvious sources of her troubles.

As we cautiously, and cluelessly, talked Lauren out of this low point in her life, the three of us realized there was something wrong with this picture.  None of us had ever been trained on what to do if someone was suicidal – who can we call on for help?  Calling 911 seemed like it would be a bad idea because it would create so much raucous around Lauren’s house.  Her parents would be woken up, she would be dragged into an ambulance and taken to the hospital.  Should we call her parents?  No, that would make matters worse – right?  That’s what we thought at the time, since we had never been trained on what to do in these frightening circumstances.

After about 2 hours of talking to Lauren online, we were able to calm her down. After a series of text messages, she was safe and in bed ready to sleep off her exhausting night.

From there, we had many concerns.  We wanted to ensure that no one had to go through what we did – ever again.  Not a single high school student should feel helpless when their friend comes to them in need of help.  So, we e-mailed our Superintendent and Principal to let them know what had happened, and that we wanted to do something about it.

This is how my journey as a mental health advocate began.  I’ve been fortunate to have made numerous connections in the field, and sit on a number of extraordinary committees, state and national advisory boards, as well as grant writing committees.

From hereon out, my posts will focus on a few things – the things I love to do within this field of extraordinary organizations.  I’ll focus on:

  • Collaborations and connections: I love helping organizations find the right groups to connect and collaborate with.  How can we form a tight-knit community within the mental health field?  Should we all work together, or should each organization focus on their own initiatives?
  • Marketing mental health: I feel as if there needs to be some changes in the way we encourage people to seek help.  We need to take a new approach in marketing mental health to society through social media and multi-media campaigns.  Can social media really encourage people seek help?  How can we get companies to be more cautious in their own marketing strategies?
  • Raising awareness: Marketing aside, there are so many ways we can raise awareness about mental health and the numerous resources available.  How can we do this in an appropriate way? Are there certain demographics we should target when we do this?

Also, like Linea and Keith, I love hearing feedback!  I encourage you all to comment on my posts and feel free to let me know what you’d like me to write about!

I’ll leave you all with my favorite saying that I’ve coined throughout the years: we’re all working towards the same goal, so why not work together!

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