May 14, 2018 - 23andMe Research Communities

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness – Wide

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re taking a moment to highlight how anyone can be there for the people in their lives by starting a conversation about mental health.

Whether it’s through advocating on someone’s behalf, or by simply listening, there are many ways to demonstrate your support. Now, 23andMe has added another way to help called Friends of Depression and Bipolar. As the first phase of 23andMe’s depression and bipolar study draws to a close, we have launched this next phase of the study that focuses on individuals who do not have a diagnosis of depression or bipolar and are interested in participating in the research. As part of this effort, we are recruiting 25,000 existing 23andMe customers who do not have a diagnosis of depression or bipolar. The research from this next part of the study will help scientists to understand if certain genetic markers and lifetime experiences are more common in people living with these illnesses.

“As someone who works in the mental health space, I am regularly reminded of the importance of language.,” said Annie Blaine, the Marketing + Development Manager, Bring Change 2 Mind. “A kind word, an understanding tone, and a listening ear go further than any of us could ever imagine. These moments of empathy are invaluable for creating connection and for erasing stigma. And, as someone who has loved ones who are taking part in 23andMe’s depression and bipolar study, I know how critical this research is for providing hope. In the world of uncertainty that often surrounds mental illness, this study offers a chance for the answers and solutions that we are all seeking to lead full and productive lives.”

Participants in Friends of Depression and Bipolar will be asked to complete the same research activities as those participants living with depression or bipolar. Along the way, scientists will compare survey responses, cognitive assessments, and genetic data from both groups and try to identify what makes people living with depression and bipolar unique. In the first few weeks of enrollment, we have already recruited over 6,000 participants.

Participating in research is just one of many ways to create more awareness and to support everyone living with a mental illness. Another way is talking about mental health with the people in your life. But, whether you are living with a mental illness or you want to reach out to someone about their mental health, we know that initiating these conversations is often daunting. That’s why we’re excited to share some resources developed by Bring Change to Mind (BC2M) that address this exact concern.

BC2M is a national organization focused on ending the stigma surrounding mental illness through encouraging dialogue and raising awareness, understanding, and empathy. Additionally, BC2M acts as a portal to a broad coalition of organizations that provide mental health services, screening, information, support, and treatment.

BC2M believes that every individual who speaks out inspires another. And another. Which is how we’ll end the stigma around mental illness. But, BC2M also recognizes that one of the biggest challenges in discussing mental health is getting started. So, BC2M developed a Talk Tool, which was launched as part of their fifth PSA, Talk to Anyone, to offer helpful tips on how to start conversations that touch on various diagnoses and relationships. Not every conversation will be perfect, but each one fights the stigma around mental illness. And, that’s a conversation worth having. Visit the BC2M Talk Tool today, and start your own mental health conversation!

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