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More than 1,300+ organizations, brands, government agencies and cultural leaders join together for first-ever Mental Health Action Day

Largest cross-sector effort to shift from mental health awareness to mental health action organized in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing trauma of systemic racism

Learn more at

Mental Health Action Day logoLos Angeles, May 20 – Today the disability advancement nonprofit RespectAbility and more than 1,300 organizations, brands, government agencies and cultural leaders will participate in the inaugural Mental Health Action Day to drive the conversation from mental health awareness to mental health action. Convened by MTV Entertainment Group, Mental Health Action Day is an open-source movement, aimed at motivating people to take action to get mental health support — whether for themselves, their loved ones or for everyone by advocating for systemic changes for mental health access and equity.

“RespectAbility has been proud to partner with the MTV Entertainment Group on a variety of projects and Mental Health Action Day is one such initiative – one which should spur action 365 days a year,” said Lauren Appelbaum, VP of Communications at RespectAbility. “By bringing together a diverse group of corporations and nonprofits, MTV’s Mental Health Action Day can help both decrease the stigma that prevents people from living their authentic lives while also ensuring that people know where to find mental health and well-being resources. One way to do this is to ensure more authentic storytelling of mental health on screen. RespectAbility is honored to be joining in this effort to raise awareness, the first step in leading to concrete action.”

Headshots of five panelists smiling. Text: Mental Health Action DayAs such, RespectAbility is hosting a virtual event at 4:30 p.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. PT: Raising Awareness and Promoting Change Through Authentic Mental Health Representation in Media. Join RespectAbility for an engaging conversation about the importance of portraying mental health accurately and authentically in TV, film and other forms of media, especially as a means to create awareness and serve as a first step to systemic change. Panelists include Nikki Bailey (comedian, actress, author, and producer), Amanda Burdine (screenwriter), Diego Kusnir (blind psychologist) and Ali MacLean (playwright and TV writer). This conversation will be moderated by RespectAbility’s Tatiana LeeLearn More and Register

Mental Health Action Day comes at a critical time. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on the mental health and well-being of people of color, young people and LGBTQ+ communities. Studies have found:

  • Four in 10 adults have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, compared to 1 in 10 before the pandemic.
  • 56% of young adults ages 18-24 reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression during the pandemic.
  • 48% of Black people reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic versus 42% of all adults and 40.9% of white people.

Communities of Color, who have experienced disparate impacts of COVID-19 and the ongoing trauma of systemic racism from police brutality to anti-Asian violence, are also facing greater mental health challenges than ever before but continue to face challenges accessing mental health care.

The cross-sector collaboration calling attention to the great need for support and action to address mental health in the same way in which we treat physical health needs is groundbreaking. From media and tech companies to nonprofits, consumer brands, government agencies and cultural leaders, the actions today are only the beginning.

Coalition partners will host a series of activations ranging from public events featuring experts and activists to employee engagement activities, all with the goal of encouraging and empowering people to take an initial action, whether for themselves or others, to support their mental health needs.

“A year into the pandemic, as mental health struggles have skyrocketed, we brought together more than 1,300 partners to not only meet the moment but also drive a movement of action on a public health crisis that affects every one of us,” said Erika Soto-Lamb, Vice President of Social Impact Strategy at MTV Entertainment Group. “From storytelling to creating content, together we can shatter stigma and normalize the act of getting help for those who need it.”

A full list of partners as of May 20, 2021 is available here.

About Mental Health Action Day

Mental Health Action Day is an open-source movement of brands, organizations, government agencies, and cultural leaders to drive culture from mental health awareness to mental health action. The first Mental Health Action Day will take place on May 20, 2021 with a mission to encourage and empower people to take their first actions on mental health — whether for themselves, for their loved ones or for their communities, because mental health is health. Learn more at

Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the VP, Communications and Entertainment & News Media, of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so all people with disabilities can fully participate in every aspect of community. As an individual with an acquired nonvisible disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she works at the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. She regularly conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible for entertainment executives throughout the industry. Appelbaum partners with studios, production companies and writers’ rooms to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. She has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and films with A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, NBCUniversal, Netflix, ViacomCBS, and The Walt Disney Company, among others. She represents RespectAbility on the CAA Full Story Initiative Advisory Council, Disney+ Content Advisory Council, MTV Entertainment Group Culture Code and Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working in development, production and post-production. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award for this Lab. To reach her, email [email protected]

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