Champion swimmer Michael Phelps has partnered with online therapy provider Talkspace for a national TV campaign that addresses the stigma of mental illness.
Talkspace connects users with a licensed therapist that can be reached with a computer, tablet or smartphone. By sharing his story of depression and anxiety, Phelps said that he hopes to encourage others to seek help. In addition to being the Talkspace spokesman, Phelps is joining the company’s board of advisers to help direct the company’s ongoing strategy.
“[Phelp’s] deep knowledge of the mental health advocacy world, as well as his commitment to data-driven improvements in the field, will be invaluable to the Talkspace Advisory Board as we work to make Talkspace a key part of how people manage their mental health,” Talkspace CEO Oren Frank said in a statement.
Mental health has frequently risen to the top of public conversation in recent years, from demanding socialized healthcare access, a possible link to mass shootings and even the impact of social media usage. While the subject of mental illness has become more commonplace, stigmas and misconceptions still exist.
The biggest message that Talkspace wants to impart is that depression can happen to anyone. Michael Phelps said that in 2014, he “lost all hope,” despite becoming one of the world’s most successful athletes.
In his TV spot, Phelps said that after spending five days in his room and contemplating death, the decision to seek therapy saved his life. The spot was released in time for the end of May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month.
A number of brands have used cause marketing to spread awareness of mental health issues and encourage consumers to seek help when needed.
Last year, Instagram started a campaign called #HereForYou that highlights users that have created mental health communities on the platform. A video highlights three users who share their struggles and stress the importance of reaching out for support.
Each January in Canada, Bell hosts a fundraiser to raise money for mental health services in the country. For every use of the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, Bell donates five cents to a mental health organization in the region and keeps the conversation going on social media throughout the year.