Written by Hannah Blum, author of The Truth About Broken: The Unfixed Version of Self-Love
Slay Stigma |Mental Health Campaign
Shame doesn’t push us over the edge, but it pushes us closer to it.
On February 14, 2020 I launched my Slay Stigma Mental Health Campaign on Bonfire selling apparel with the SLAY STIGMA design, and had the opportunity to talk with Michelle Hammer, founder of Schizophrenic.NYC, a clothing brand with a powerful mental health message. This post explains the meaning and message behind the apparel that works to reduce stigma.
What is ‘Slay Stigma’?
‘Slay Stigma’ is sending an unapologetic message to society about the treatment of people with a mental illness. In 2010, I was involuntarily placed in a mental hospital where I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was stripped of everything, including my bra wires, hair ties, shoelaces, and drawstrings. As I entered the facility, I could hear the eerie sound of my shoes slapping against the cold floor, my hair was frazzled, my pants were sagging, and my shoulders drooped over. This was the moment that I realized I was being molded into the stigmatized version of a mental patient you see in the movies or on tv.
Below is a slideshow of some the styles from the Slay Stigma Campaign
The word ‘Slay’ can either be looked at with amusement or as an act of violence, but that’s precisely why I chose the word. One major stigmatized belief is that people with a mental illness are extremely violent and dangerous. In scary movies, we are portrayed as murderers performing gruesome acts of violence. SlayStigma is a play on words that represents slaying these types of myths. It’s calling out society for the label they’ve put on those of us who were born differently than others.
SlayStigma is not just about confronting a health crisis; it’s also about standing up against a social justice issue.
It’s calling in your community, the people who understand you. Bipolar disorder does not define me, but it is part of who I am, a part that I am no longer ashamed of. I want the same for others living with a mental illness. You are not alone, and there is a community that loves you. We are in this together.
Michelle Hammer is a stand out in the mental health advocacy world. She is the founder of the clothing brand Schizophrenic.NYC. At the age of 22, Michelle was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Years later, Michelle utilized her creativity and artistic gift to spread awareness about mental illness. In May 2015, Schizophrenic.NYC was born.
The brand offers a variety of designs including Michelles artwork and statements that aim to reduce the stigma of mental illness. Shirt designs with text such as “Don’t be paranoid, you look great,” and my favorite that recently came out, “I’m Mentally Ill And I Don’t Kill.”
What Is The Message Behind The Clothing Brand?
I asked Michelle a couple of questions about the message and meaning behind Schizophrenic.NYC
My clothing brand is all about starting a conversation. The more conversations we have about mental health the less stigma there will be. I want to see a world where people can be open about having a mental illness and they won’t be judged negatively
We are an underrepresented community who is being stigmatized. Stop blaming and furthering stigmatizing the mental health community for a hate and gun problem. Help represent. Help give a voice for our community who is being stigmatized.
There are many mental health advocates that are utilizing their creative talents to send a bold message to society about the stigma of mental illness. I encourage you to support the mental health community as we strive to make the change needed to save lives.