Kenneth Cole Launches Initiative to Fight Mental Health Stigma With Help from Kendall Jenner

Kenneth Cole is shining a light on the importance of mental health. Today, in line with Mental Health Awareness Month, the designer and social activist launched The Mental Health Coalition, a large-scale commitment that will bring together nonprofits, businesses, brands, celebrities and influencers in a coordinated effort to destigmatize mental health conditions.

Kendall Jenner, who is among the boldface names teaming up with Kenneth Cole on the project, jumped at the opportunity to share her own story about anxiety.

“I was really young and feeling like I couldn’t breath and running to my mom. She of course took me to a bunch of doctors. No one ever told me I had anxiety,” she said on “Good Morning America” this morning. “Three, four years ago it came back and I would have crazy panic attacks, [and] what I hope to accomplish [by sharing] is for people not to feel as alone.”

The coalition is an online platform and digital hub featuring resources from partners, such as The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Bring Change to Mind, Child Mind Institute, Crisis Text Line, JED Foundation, Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and The Trevor Project, to help guide those seeking help.

“This is so far beyond than anything I could have imagined,” Cole told FN. “Mental health affects everyone. At the end of this process, you’ll see that people will reach a comfort zone and will make it more much acceptable to talk about mental health. That’s the plan.”

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, experts have documented a surge in emotional distress worldwide as people grapple with the repercussions of the health crisis, not the least of which are mental-health related.

“It’s so unfathomable what we are going to experience as we go through this,” added Cole. “It’s all become a blur. We stay focused at the task at hand and we move forward. What does the post-coronavirus world look like? That’s what we are trying to anticipate but no one knows and that’s overwhelming.”

Cole said he hopes to encourage people to come together more than ever before to promote acceptance, inspire hope and destigmatize mental health conditions. To aid the effort, coalition co-founder Catie Cole, conceived a digital storytelling platform, howareyoureally.org, that will leverage the voices of celebrities, influencers and advocates to discuss mental health in an open, authentic and provocative way.

Jenner kicked off the initiative with her own story while other participants supporting the cause will include Arielle Kebbel, Cheyenne Jackson, Chris Cuomo, Deepak Chopra, Elizabeth Chambers, Kesha, Oliver Platt, Michael Strahan, Stanley Tucci, Whoopi Goldberg and many more. All will post their videos online and on social media and then will challenge others to answer that same question: “How are you, really?”

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