These simple badges are helping social media users talk about mental illness

These simple badges are helping social media users talk about mental illness. People living with mental illness and other invisible conditions are fighting stigma head-on, thanks to a new social media campaign. A collection of simple online badges, created by 28-year-old mental health advocate Kat Selwyn Layton from North Carolina, features declarative statements about mental health on colorful backgrounds. The Star Wars actress was a fierce advocate for mental health communities, and bravely vocalized her own experiences with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Image: End The stigma/Facebook Through the campaign, Layton encourages people to use the badges as their profile pictures, or make a collage of several badges if they live with multiple illnesses or conditions. Using the hashtag #EndTheStigma, social media users are doing just that — sharing the badges across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to help end the silence around mental health and invisible conditions. Image: End The Stigma/Facebook But Layton and the admins of the End the Stigma page know the ability to share these badges isn't universal. Some people living with mental illness, after all, do not have the freedom to be so open about their experiences. "We have noticed that some people aren't able to share the badges they relate to, as the stigma is still too much for them and sharing may have a negative effect on their lives," one admin, Gemma, recently wrote on the page. Image: End The stigma/Facebook The ongoing campaign's badges may be simple, but they're inspiring those living with mental illness and invisible conditions to share their stories and connect with the broader community.

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People living with mental illness and other invisible conditions are fighting stigma head-on, thanks to a new social media campaign.

A collection of simple online badges, created by 28-year-old mental health advocate Kat Selwyn Layton from North Carolina, features declarative statements about mental health on colorful backgrounds. Called #EndTheStigma, the campaign lets users post the badges to their accounts, talk about living with invisible illnesses, conditions or disorders, and show others that they aren’t alone.

The result is an online mental health movement helping to tackle shame and break the silence around often misunderstood experiences.

Image: End The Stigma/Facebook

Layton started small, posting several badges on her personal Facebook page on Dec. 30.

Just one week later, it’s now morphed into a viral campaign that has reached social media users around the world. She’s even started creating badges on request, hoping to represent a spectrum of experiences for anyone who wants to advocate for their conditions.

Image: End The Stigma/Facebook

To accommodate the growing movement, Layton created a dedicated End the Stigma Facebook page for the effort. She also brought on volunteer admins to help monitor the week-old page — which already has more than 26,000 likes — for potentially triggering comments and for users who need referrals to professional resources.

Approximately 1 in 5 American adults — or almost 19% of the U.S. population — experiences mental illness in a given year.

But the stigma around living…

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