One Year Later: Still #NotAshamed

Just over a year ago, we launched the #NotAshamed campaign, part of the Mary Brougher Mental Health Initiative at the Bender Leadership Academy. The campaign focuses on raising awareness of mental health disabilities and addresses stigma by encouraging young people to be #NotAshamed of living with mental health disabilities.

Since 2022, the #NotAshamed campaign has been joined by influential and well-known individuals who are either living with mental health disabilities or are allies of the mental health community. From business leaders to politicians to chart-topping musicians, people continue coming together to show their support for young people living with mental health disabilities.

The Bender Leadership Academy has a goal of hitting 100 #NotAshamed videos by the end of 2023. Keep reading to learn more about the focus of the #NotAshamed campaign and how you can help us reach our goal. By doing so, we not only honor Mary’s legacy, but we also commit to finishing the work she lived for each day.

#NotAshamed Focus

Take the power. For centuries, we have allowed stigma, ignorance, and myth to take power from people living with mental health disabilities. It is time to seize that power for ourselves and not let others, society, or misconceptions stand in the way of our dreams. We must first invest in our own joy, believe in our own value, and fight for equity in our lived experiences.

Promote truth. So much of what people know about mental health is derived from what we hear on television, what is whispered behind closed doors, and what is read in newspapers and books. Yet so much of what is shared is based on misconceptions and untruths. For example, people with mental health disabilities are more likely to be victims of violent crimes than to commit a violent act.

Mental fitness matters to everyone. Currently, over 1 in 5 youth ages 13-18 and almost half of adults in the United States have or will experience a mental health disability in their lifetime. Despite this, mental health and mental fitness is still not understood or discussed as part of overall wellness. It is critical, in a time when suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10-14 and 25-34, that we equip today’s youth with the skills and competencies to understand and manage their mental health.

How to Start a #NotAshamed Campaign in Your Community

Step 1: Follow Bender Leadership Academy on social media.

Step 2: Share #NotAshamed videos and content on your personal social media.

Step 3: Create a personal #NotAshamed Campaign video. Submit your video to Scott Hammerstrom at In your video, share who you are, why the #NotAshamed campaign matters to you, and why you are #NotAshamed. Learn more about how to make a #NotAshamed video as an ally or person living with a mental health disability.

Step 4: Invite your friends, family, and neighbors to make a #NotAshamed video and/or make a donation to the Bender Leadership Academy.

Step 5: Introduce the #NotAshamed campaign and Bender Leadership Academy to organizations in your community such as schools, community centers, disability services, and others in order to amplify the campaign.

At Bender Leadership Academy, we know our students are awesome and powerful advocates for the rights of people with disabilities. We encourage you to join us in this important work. #NotAshamed #LeadOn