Health

Beautifully Simple Badges Are Helping Social Media Talk About Mental Illness

by Leo Shvedsky

January 6, 2017
(#EndTheStigma/Facebook

When someone is especially proud of a particular feat, it’s often said they wear it like a badge of honor. And in an innovative way that similar approach may become a way to remove the stigma of mental illness.

28-year-old Kay Selwyn Layton was diagnosed as bipolar 10 years ago. After last month’s death of actress Carrie Fisher, she became inspired to help people shake off the shame of mental illness, something Fisher was a proud advocate of for decades.

On December 30, Layton launched a Facebook page called #EndTheStigma, which is built around having people change their profile photo to a simple image that conveys their courage in living with a mental illness.

(Layton/Facebook)

“I want the badges to start a conversation, make everyone feel a part of something and help them brave the path to ending stigma,” Layton said in an interview with The Huffington Post.

In less than a week, the campaign has gone viral, with nearly 30,000 people “liking” the Facebook page. And Layton said she’s been creating more pages and individuals reach out with stories about their own private struggles with mental illness.

The North Carolina native says she understands that not everyone is in a place where they can freely shake off the stigma of their mental illness but she hopes that friends and families of those living with a condition will consider sharing the badges as a way to show their support.

“Just because an illness is often invisible, it doesn't mean your battle should go unrecognized,” she wrote on the campaign’s Facebook page.

(#EndTheStigma/Facebook)

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