Footwear x Mental Health: A Collaboration

How do your kicks collaborate with mental health?

As Mental Health Awareness month draws to a close, I'm asking for your participation in a call to action to keep the conversation going.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), "approximately 46.6 million adults in the US live with a mental illness" [1]. Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75 percent begin by age 24 [1]. Additionally, African Americans are “20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population” [2].

Barriers to treatment and engagement for African Americans include lack of cultural competence by health professionals, and shame and stigma within the community surrounding the topic. Other barriers affecting mental health engagement include an inability or unwillingness to use creative and innovative approaches to engagement, and an inability to work effectively within and across diverse cultures [3]. These, among many others, are challenges faced by mental health providers.

As part of my research at the MIT Media Lab, I'm exploring how sneaker culture can act as a bridge to help overcome cultural stigmas. With the Footwear x Mental Health campaign, I'm asking for  your help in unleashing the power of footwear: to prove it’s more than just a shoe or a product. Sneakers impact communities.

To participate:

  • Post a sneaker (designed, already owned, or one you admire) on Twitter, along with one to two sentences related to how it links to mental health and wellness. You may answer one of the three prompts below or share thoughts of your own:
  1. How does this sneaker inspire you or a friend in overcoming a difficult situation?
  2. Describe how this sneaker makes you feel.
  3. How can footwear provide an innovative approach to destigmatizing mental health?
  • Include in your post the hashtags: #FootwearXMentalHealth + #MentalHealthAwareness or #BlackMentalHealthMatters .
  • Tag 2 people in your post, and encourage them to also share how their kicks collaborate with mental health and wellness.

The content you share will be reviewed to see how footwear may assist in destigmatizing the conversation surrounding mental health.

For more mental health resources, please visit:

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