A clothing line called Wear Your Label is creating clothes to spark conversation about mental health worldwide.
Two years ago Kayley Reed, 22 and Kyle MacNevin, 23 met while they were working at a local mental health organisation in Canada. They were complete strangers at the time, but connected instantly.
The two shared their personal mental illness stories with each other – Kayley about battling with an eating disorder and Kyle dealing with anxiety and ADHD.
After opening up to each other, the two entrepreneurs realised that mental illness was a topic that wasn’t talked about enough. They believed the stigma around the issue prevented people from seeking help.
“We became frustrated with the statistics, and the stigma. One in five people live with mental illness…so why aren’t we talking about it,” they ask on Wear Your Label's website.
What started as a small side project during school has grown into a start-up company with international recognition, making headlines worldwide.
“We wanted to encourage individuals to take ownership over their mental health, rather than fear the labels that so often define us,” Reed and MacNevin write.
The clothing line produces t-shirts, tank tops and jumpers all scripted with positive messaging like “Self-care isn’t selfish” and “It’s okay not to be okay.”
They also have a design that reads “Every 40 Seconds,” which signifies the one person who dies from self-harm around the world every 40 seconds.
The co-founder’s want people to wear their fashion label to tackle the stigma of mental illness and use it to start a conversation about mental health.
“The biggest challenge is that mental health is invisible,” MacNevin told Financial Post. “We’re trying to make mental illness obvious so that it’s not just tolerated but accepted and understood.”
This is one of a few organisations raising awareness about mental illness. In Australia there is an organisation called OneWave. The Sydney-based organisation is a non-profit surf community that tackles depression, anxiety and bipolar through surfing.
A popular online company called Joyable is another start-up tackling mental illness, mainly focusing on social anxiety. It provides affordable mental health services to the millions who can’t access it.
As the stigma around mental illness diminishes, perhaps more people will start up companies to continue the conversation so those who suffer don’t feel alone.