Mental health challenges will always be with us, and society has made encouraging progress destigmatizing them. More and more people are talking openly with friends about their mental and emotional health, seeking counseling and therapy, and accepting medical support. But as stigma recedes, it becomes clear that we are in the midst of a genuine crisis, especially amongst our youth, who face a crippling combination of achievement culture and shame-based comparison culture. Moreover, always-on news stokes fears and anxieties—and points the finger at who we should blame for them. All of this has contributed to unprecedented levels of anxiety and depression.
We're interested in organizations taking both a personal and systems-level view of these challenges, believing that almost all institutions, new and old, should consider their opportunity and responsibility in our collective health. This will require both “relief and development”: not only more creative, effective, and accessible forms of traditional mental health support, but different kinds of schools, media companies, and technology firms that can address the root causes of these alarming trends.
In today’s commercially-driven world people are more likely to be seen and referred to as 'consumers' than anything else. Instead of being met with resistance, this shift has often meant that individuals have formed their identity through a composite of brands, and product purchasing can be guided more by the desire to make a statement about one’s identity and values than strict utility. As a result, the lines between social movement, capitalism, and community are increasingly blurry (see: Nike, Whole Foods, and Patagonia).
Given this reality (which is with us for both better and worse), we’d like to support entrepreneurs with a vision for building brands with a counter-culturally virtuous and optimistic view of the world, spreading hope and beauty, eliminating stigma, and most fundamentally, redirecting our identity away from materialistic consumption and toward lasting contentment.