Hope Tribe’s main mission is to start a society-wide dialogue about mental health issues and stop the stigma around it. Founded by Anna Adam, she sees her role as to be a channel of outreach, education and activism on mental health.
There’s a huge stigma associated with mental health issues and the overwhelming majority of people report being misunderstood by family members, shunned, ignored or called names and labelled by friends, work colleagues and health professionals. Stigma and discrimination prevent people from seeking help: this can delay treatment and impair recovery. Hope Tribe‘s main focus is to change the outlook on mental health issues, to stop the stigma around it and get those who suffer the help and support they need and deserve.
It is great to have you with us Anna! Can you tell us a little bit about your story and the concept behind Hope Tribe Shop?
Thank you so much for having me. I’m the founder of Hope Tribe, a mental health awareness and support brand. Hope Tribe’s main mission is to encourage a society-wide dialogue about mental health issues and stop the stigma around it. This purpose is very personal to me as I – like many others – have had very close encounters with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. I recognise how alone a person with any sort of mental health issue feels. Unless you can afford it, support isn’t readily available, the NHS has waitlists years long and it’s just super frustrating when you have nowhere to turn and feel totally alone in this.
There’s this scene in the recent film, Joker, when the key character, Arthur Fleck, is talking to a social worker who announces that funding support has been cut so there won’t be any more help available for this person who’s on 7 different medications and having psychotic episodes. The lack of support is definitely a contributing factor in his total breakdown. To me, this scene felt unnervingly real – this is precisely what everyone with mental health issues or mental illness has to deal with regularly. I can really relate to the isolation and the helplessness and how stigmatised you feel when things start to go wrong with you. So this is a very personal project to me, the lack of support for mental health problems and the stigma that causes people to suffer is the key issues I’m preparing to fight.
The Hope Tribe Shop’s mission is to start a society-wide dialogue about mental health issues and stop the stigma that surrounds it, how do you aim to improve public opinion and behaviour towards people with mental health issues?
There is a huge stigma around mental health and mental illness which makes it incredibly difficult to seek out help. People with mental health problems say that the social stigma attached to mental ill-health and the discrimination they experience can make their difficulties worse and make it harder to recover.
I think society, in general, has stereotyped views about mental illness and how it affects people. Stigma and discrimination can also worsen someone’s mental health problems, and delay or impede getting help and treatment, and their recovery. Social isolation, poor housing, unemployment and poverty are all linked to mental ill-health. So stigma and discrimination can trap people in a cycle of illness.
Hope Tribe’s purpose is to raise awareness about mental health and mental illness by creating awareness pieces that help to start conversations and encourage people to open up about their own issues. By having this difficult, yet necessary, conversations around mental health and mental illness we can strive to develop a more open, tolerant, empathetic and supportive society.
Can you explain 3 steps we can take towards helping to reduce discrimination that people with mental health problems have in their personal and professional lives?
- I think one of the most important things in both cases is to listen in a non-judgmental way. I feel that if we’re able to talk about our issues and difficulties we can be extremely helpful for those of us who experience mental health issues or have to live with chronic mental illness. But at the same time, listening and being open to discussing mental health freely and non-judgmentally will not make those problems or symptoms go away so it’s important to be aware of the need for continuous support.
- The other thing I’d recommend is to try to give support, not advice. I think most of us go into problem-solving mode when a friend, family member or colleague comes to us with an issue when in reality, most of the time they just want support.
- Most mental health professionals communicate in a way that refrains from giving advice or presenting solutions – they try to support and empower their client/patient to make the decision that seems the best for themselves in a safe, supportive environment. I think this is the perfect way how we should support someone with a mental health issue, by just simply being there, non-judgmentally, supporting, listening. By being supportive towards people with mental health, we ourselves lead by example and this is something I want to encourage and see reflected in the corporate environment, developing fair policies that reflect on the issues and acceptance of mental health.
Can you explain the company structure and the team working behind Hope Tribe Shop?
There really isn’t a team behind Hope Tribe, it’s just myself at the moment. I am planning to grow the business in the next year as I’ll need the support of a dedicated team to achieve some of the amazing things I have planned – I’d like to organise more events to raise awareness and I’m looking to work with like-minded volunteers who would really like to be involved in fighting the mental health stigma.
What platforms are you using to raise brand awareness around Hope Tribe Shop?
I use a variety of social media channels to share supportive messages and raise awareness about Hope Tribe’s supportive designs. I use Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. I also use some paid advertising – Google, Facebook and Instagram work best as paid channels. I also personally try to attend as many related events as I can and network small business owners and people who represent charities as I believe that joint ventures and shared projects can get the message even further. I organised a mental health-related event in the Google Campus in London in the summer on the topic of mental health at work and professional burnout – it generated a lot of interest among young professionals in London. I’d love to provide more events like this – it’s a great way to spread the word about mental health.
Are there any other companies or organisations out there that you would like to collaborate with at Hope Tribe Shop?
Yes absolutely. There are so many cool mental health-related projects in the UK and in London. I would love to collaborate with two UK brands – Shelf Help and Self Space. Shelf Help a community of like-minded people celebrating self-help & Inspiring positive change and Self Space is a professional mental health service that offers a range of session options including 1-1 therapy, couples therapy, student sessions, supervision, executive coaching and team dynamics sessions. Both these organisations are doing a fantastic job and I’d love to work with them. I would also be keen to do more projects with mental health charities. 10% of Hope Tribe’s profit goes to a selection of UK-based mental health charities such as Mind and Mind The Mental Health Charity, Time To Change, Mentalhealth UK, Rethink.org, Youngminds.org.uk and I’d love to do even more to support the wonderful work they do!
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
It’s an empowering platform for professional women and for female entrepreneurs. We definitely need more spaces like this online, in print – everywhere really!
What does 2020 look like for you?
I am currently developing a program to help raise awareness in the workplace. There is a new trend to appoint mental health first aiders in corporate organisations but most of these companies find it difficult to communicate this effectively. By providing supportive merchandise and apparel, Hope Tribe can help these organisations to raise awareness by their mental health first aiders more effectively. I’d also love to organise more mental health-related events – the more we talk about it the better solutions we can come up with to develop effective support networks and end the society-wide stigma around mental health and mental illness.
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