Baring Their Hearts for Mental Health
“Wear your heart out for mental health” is the tagline adopted by the Heart on My Sleeve Movement, a social media campaign that began as a way for people struggling with mental health challenges to talk about their experience with mental illness and empower others to do the same, and people all over the world are now drawing – or tattooing – hearts on their arms in support of the movement.
Mitch Wallis, founder of the Heart on My Sleeve Movement, created the social media campaign to encourage those who suffer from mental illness to be open up about their struggle. Photo: Instagram.
Heart On My Sleeve Forever Now a Tattoo!
Just this week, Heart on My Sleeve Movement founder, Mitch Wallis, and his mother went to get matching hearts permanently emblazoned on their forearms, in recognition of the mental health challenges Wallis has faced since childhood, and the steps he has taken to overcome them and help others do the same.
Not All is What It Seems
The Heart on My Sleeve Movement was founded by Wallis, who is a 27-year-old marketing manager for Microsoft who, to anyone on the outside, would appear to have the perfect life. “I had the perfect job, the expensive car, property investments, great girlfriend, great family, good upbringing. Everything was fine, but yet nothing was at the same time,” stated Wallis in the launch video for the Heart on My Sleeve Movement. Wallis talks about his own struggles with mental illness, which he has faced since he was a child, and the impact his “chronic anxiety, intense depression, obsessive compulsive thinking [and] panic attacks” had on his health and happiness.
It's a Movement with an Honorable Cause
The Heart on My Sleeve campaign urges young millennials who have a personal story about mental health to draw or tattoo a heart on their forearm, upload a selfie to social media with the hashtag #HeartOnMySleeve, and include a caption sharing their story. By wearing their hearts on their sleeves, these people are “owning their story,” while encouraging others to speak up about their personal experiences with mental illness, and letting those who may be too scared or embarrassed to admit that they are struggling know there is help out there for them. “It’s time that I, and we as a generation, stand-up and say, ‘I am broken and that’s OK,’” says Wallis.
Destigmatizing Mental Illness
According to the Heart on My Sleeve Movement website, the goal of the social media campaign is to “break down the final wall in destigmatizing mental illness and create a movement towards true acceptance and social well-being,” creating a safe space where people facing mental health challenges can share their stories without judgment or shame. “So many people go day to day trying to put on this brave face,” Wallis says in the Heart on My Sleeve Movement launch video. “But on the inside, they’re crumbling.”
Heart on My Sleeve Has Gone Global
And so, in support of the Heart on My Sleeve Movement, people all over the world have taken to drawing a temporary heart on their forearm with Sharpie, while others have gone the extra step by getting permanent tattoos of either a hand drawn heart, as a nod to the original symbol that started the campaign, or the Heart on My Sleeve Movement logo, in hopes that their mental health journey will inspire others to come forward and share their own story.