Bender Leadership Academy Launches Groundbreaking #NotAshamed Campaign

The Bender Leadership Academy is taking a historic leap forward this June through our #NotAshamed campaign, which is part of the Mary Brougher Mental Health Initiative at the Academy. As the community knows, we lost Mary to a tragic hiking accident in August of last year. This campaign was a passion of hers. Joyce Bender has said before that “this campaign honors Mary for sure, but it’s more than that, it’s about carrying forward her legacy and work that simply cannot wait to be executed. I’m confident that Mary would have expected no less from us.”

The campaign itself is established on data and facts that we cannot ignore if we are to truly consider and treat mental health as part of one’s overall wellness. Here’s what we know:

  • 1 in 4 adults has a mental health disability.
  • 7 of 10 teens report mental health struggles.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people between the ages of 15-24.
  • Students with disabilities are at increased risk of being bullied.
  • Bullying is linked to mental health concerns and increased risk for suicide-related behavior.
  • Only 20% of youth with mental health disabilities receive care from mental health providers.

#NotAshamed will officially launch during PRIDE Month this June, which is by design as this campaign will be centered around the intersectionality of mental health and what this means as we seek to speak to and support various community members struggling with mental health. We know that this is certainly true in the LGBTQ community, one that needs our support during this important month of solidarity through diversity.

During PRIDE Month, the #NotAshamed campaign will feature voices from the LGBTQ community and its allies, including national leaders, community advocates, and elected officials. Examples of community members taking part in this campaign include Brian Bond, Executive Director of Parents, Friends, and Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Jason Mida, President of Mida Associates, Elliot Imse, Executive Director of the LGBTQ Victory Institute, and Katherine Perez, Executive Director of the Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy, and Innovation, to name a few.

The campaign will be PRIDE-themed during the entire month of June to show our support of the LGBTQ community. This tradition will follow as we speak to various communities throughout this campaign. Should you wish to join this campaign, whether during PRIDE Month or beyond, please contact Scott Hammerstrom at to enlist today!