1/17/21: Getting Mental Health Messages More Mass Attention

So many angles to discuss here, but first let me say this is a really good thing for the movement to normalize the convo. Having worked my whole career in sports, I’m a firm believer that sports can & will be a big part of that normalization. 

Here are the facts: HOPE Crisis Counseling Program, is a MH & wellness initiative funded by FEMA & run locally by the Cal. Dept. of Health Care Services.

Tho they previously had a focus on crisis related to events such as natural disasters, given the current environment the program’s rededicated its resources to services like online self-help tools, mindfulness apps, a stress-relief telephone hotline, individual counseling, & school programs.

Now, not most orgs in the MH space are this well-funded by govt. And sponsorships (bc this IS a sponsorship) in major pro sports that involve branding on large team assets such as helmet/jersey patches typically start at 7 figures. HOPE’s deal it’s been reported is in the $500k range. Now, talking to friends w the Kings, the team COULD have shopped this helmet logo to find more $, but from the top on down, this org is made of good ppl.

Actually, their SVP Global Partnerships said, “We wanted to try to use this as more than just a billboard, but as an opportunity to get an impt msg out.”

And that’s JUST what sports can do. On our end, we’re so lucky that Robin Lehner wears our hashtag on his helmet, every game – his choice, no $ involved. And that Ty Johnson of the Jets wore it in his cleats, his choice.

But, sports is a biz. This “inventory” has value, & most MH orgs don’t have millions to spend on sponsorships. So how can we as advocate orgs work w teams to partner more broadly? By helping leagues/teams see what’s in it for them. 

Advocate orgs have brands & expertise that can help pro teams 1) engage more ticket-buying fans, 2) engage more Corp Partners, 3) engage the community. The Chicago Wolves are doing this w us right now (will share this in Stories). But, this type of activation takes progressive orgs like the Kings & Wolves, & advocate orgs that act as consulting agencies, not just charities. Being that consultant starts w guidance on the naming – we gotta move away from names that involve the term “MH.” Why? To the avg sports fan, unfortunately, MH = MI, & it’s near impossible to make this topic relatable to the masses to help teams grow their fans & our msgs, that way. 

The Kings program shows HOPE. The Wolves shows THRIVE. Robin’s helmet, Ty’s Cleats, the Mets (& many other teams) in-arena nights show #SameHere. We can HELP teams grow their fan bases, & $, & they can help us get our normalization msgs out to many hundreds of thousands. But we gotta do it together & think bigger. Sports did it w normalizing Cancer – Fans now proudly hold signs: “I fight for (NAME).”  We can do the same for this space – where EVERYONE in stadiums/arenas know this is a topic for them!

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