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When people ask “how are you?” in conversation, it can feel like a pleasantry, rather than a question meant to be answered honestly. But a new mental health initiative is asking people to reexamine how they answer that question in order to “change the way people talk about, and care for, mental illness.”
Mental health advocate Catie Cole is joining forces with the Mental Health Coalition in creating How Are You, Really?, a storytelling platform that encourages people to open up an authentic dialogue surrounding their mental health.
“The goal is to destigmatize mental health conditions and to educate and empower people to better understand their own feelings,” Cole, who is the daughter of designer Kenneth Cole, tells Yahoo Life.
Recognizing that people learn particularly well from other’s experiences, Cole founded the platform as a space for individuals to self-reflect and practice narrative therapy.
How Are You, Really? launched on May 15 with the help of influential people such as Kendall Jenner, Chris Cuomo, Whoopi Goldberg, Deepak Chopra and more. By having these famous figures share their raw and honest responses to their social media platforms, the hope is that they will encourage their followers to do the same. Cole felt it was important to shed light on the fact that even those with “glamorized Instagram perfect lives” have to take care of their mental health “because we all do,” she shares.
Cole explains how the “artificial displays of approval and addictive dopamine hits” that we receive through likes and comments on our current social media platforms often provide detrimental effects to our emotional well-being. How Are You, Really? was built with this in mind, offering alternate forms of encouragement, which Cole calls “impact reactions.”
“Users can express their encouragement for others by more specific supportive reactions, such as giving a virtual hug or letting them know that they relate,” says Cole.
While the platform was created to amplify the voices of those who may not be as easily heard, Cole explains that How Are You, Really? is now highlighting the stories and feelings of black people during protests across the country “in an effort to communicate that all Black Lives Matter, all black feelings matter and, of course, all black stories matter,” Cole shares.
Since the launch of How Are You, Really? thousands of users have shared their stories and provided feedback, saying that they have been inspired to have more authentic conversations about their feelings and true mental state.
Cole hopes that How Are You, Really? will normalize discussions about mental health and inspire people to share their own stories and struggles more freely.
Video Produced by Jenny Miller
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