Throughout JWT’s summer internship program, we were tasked with creating an activation event for National Alliance on Mental Illness NYC Metro in order to break the stigma surrounding mental illness. Since 1 in 4 Americans are diagnosed with mental illness each year, this cause is extremely important and affects so many people.
We live in a technology-centric, impersonal world that focuses on plugging your headphones in and tuning others out. Whether someone is on the train, walking on the street, or sitting in the park, this simple action tells others that they don’t want to be approached. Our goal was to encourage people to take off their headphones and show their friends and family that they will listen.
Going off NAMI’s #IWillListen campaign, we came up with the idea to create a sticker “flag” that people can attach to the wire of their headphones. This flag will show anyone they meet that even though their headphones are in, they are willing to listen.
As a way to kickstart this movement, we created a Facebook event and invited all of our friends in the New York City area to join us in Washington Square Park on August 13th at 12pm.
There, we passed out informational post cards with flags attached and encouraged people to pledge online. We took selfies with our flags and posted them onto Twitter and Instagram with #IWillListen.
The response was better than we could have imagined. Bystanders watched and took photos. Strangers approached us to inquire about our T-shirts and the cards we were passing out. People shared personal stories about how mental illness has affected them and their families. We wanted to get the conversation started and we did just that.
Despite the fact that the event is over, the stigma is still very prevalent. I am so proud that we were able to create something that has the potential to create change. Being a part of this project has taught me so much about finding a cause you care about and doing something to support it.
This cause is so important to me and I feel strongly that in order to create change, we need to do something about it.
My name is Helena Marklin and I Will Listen.