AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--This May, the Hi, How Are You Project -- a mental health-focused nonprofit inspired by the life and legacy of Daniel Johnston -- and university student housing leader American Campus Communities (NYSE: ACC) are coming together for Mental Health Awareness Month to encourage support and bring awareness to mental health issues and well-being.
The duo is asking everyone to take a simple pledge “Because mental health matters, I pledge to ask others Hi How Are You?” to help shed light on the current reality that 1 in 5 Americans experience a mental health illness with 75 percent of mental illnesses beginning by age 24. To take the pledge like supportive artists and community leaders in this video, visit www.hihowareyou.org/pledge. Everyone is encouraged to upload their own video of them taking the pledge on their social media channels as well to share with their networks.
“Now more than ever, we want to be a catalyst to amplify the importance of being able to openly communicate about mental health and well-being,” said Tom Gimbel, co-founder of the Hi, How Are You Project. “Let’s all unite in partnership from coast-to-coast and around the world to take a simple pledge to ask others ‘Hi, How Are You?’ and have the resources to know what to do beyond that conversation starter. Together as a community we will make an even deeper impact to break down the shame and stigma around mental illness.”
At a time when a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll reveals that right now, more than half of Americans are suffering mental health issues during this pandemic, reaching out to loved ones, friends and neighbors to ask how they’re doing is more important than ever.
“Treatment success rates for mental disorders are similar to those for physical illnesses,” said Dr. Sonia Krishna, a board certified physician specializing in Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatry and Hi, How Are You Project board member. “It's important to identify the common warning signs, engage in a comfortable way, ask questions starting with Hi, How Are You, and then actively listen.”
Starting May 1, the nonprofit will release a series of Happy Habits to serve as a reminder for how individuals can work on their own mental health and balance, especially during these trying times. Upon taking the pledge, everyone will have the option to donate to receive a limited edition Happy Habits bandana that can be used as a face covering among other merchandise options featuring Daniel Johnston’s art. The first 100,000 pledges will unlock a $10,000 grant from American Campus Communities Foundation for the Hi, How Are You Project to continue to create media, events and peer-to-peer training programs that encourage open dialogue on mental well-being now during these concerning times and well into the future.
The Hi, How Are You Project’s mission is to remove the stigma and shame around mental health so people will feel open to communicate. Every year, January 22nd marks Hi, How Are You Day. The day is inspired by the late world-renowned musician and visual artist Daniel Johnston, who struggled with his own mental health issues, and encourages people to check in on a neighbor, friend, co-worker, family member or loved one and ask, “Hi, How Are You?” American Campus Communities has been the hero sponsor of Hi, How Are You Day and continues its work with the non-profit on special trainings that are a guiding tenet for American Campus’ Residence Life program, which offers events and information with health and wellness as a key topic.
“American Campus has a passion for building community and connection among our student residents, our staff, and the universities we serve,” said Bill Bayless, CEO of American Campus Communities. “We are proud to spread the word to get as many of our student residents, team members and citizens in general to take the pledge to actively encourage open dialogues around the importance of mental wellness. Over the years, we’ve seen heartbreaking loss among the students at the universities we serve so having a network of support is critical. We are fiercely committed to doing what we can to help change the statistics.”
The Project offers tips on how to start meaningful conversations found at www.hihowareyou.org/getinvolved as well as family activities for Mental Health Awareness Month such as printing and coloring “Jeremiah the Innocent” window decals. Daniel Johnston’s iconic frog artwork which is part of the Project’s logo can be placed in windows to help spread the word about the pledge to support mental wellness.
“Social distancing doesn’t mean social or self-isolation,” Krishna said. “Virtually reaching out to friends and loved ones is the best way to ensure that we bring light to mental health and support one another from wherever we are.”
About American Campus Communities
American Campus Communities, Inc. is the largest owner, manager and developer of high-quality student housing communities in the United States. The company is a fully integrated, self-managed and self-administered equity real estate investment trust (REIT) with expertise in the design, finance, development, construction management and operational management of student housing properties. As of March 31, 2020, American Campus Communities owned 166 student housing properties containing approximately 111,900 beds. Including its owned and third-party managed properties, ACC's total managed portfolio consisted of 201 properties with approximately 137,900 beds. Visit www.americancampus.com.
About Hi, How Are You Project
The Hi How Are You (HHAY) Project was created to generate new conversation around mental well-being. The name and city-proclaimed HHAY Day were inspired by Austin’s love for the iconic mural painted by Daniel Johnston. On January 22nd (Johnston’s birthday), people everywhere are encouraged to check in on a neighbor, friend, co-worker, family member, or loved one and ask, “Hi, How Are You?” The Project, created with the support of the Johnston family, creates media, events, and peer-to-peer training programs that encourage open dialogue on mental well-being. Johnston is a world-renowned musician and visual artist despite his own struggles with mental illness. To learn more about how you can get involved or to donate, please visit www.hihowareyou.org.