Supernatural Stars Blow Mental Health Stigma Out Of The Water

Supernatural Stars Blow Mental Health Stigma Out Of The Water

This fan-favorite show made headlines when its star got real about mental health.
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You may or may not know it, but October 10th was World Mental Health Day. It's a day dedicated to raising awareness and understanding all things relating to, you guessed it, mental health. For many, it's just a social media holiday. You re-tweet something heartfelt and you feel like you contributed. But for those with mental illnesses, World Mental Health Day is every day. It's with you always, not just when society acknowledges it. And it can affect anyone. Seriously. Anyone.

Plenty of actors have been candid about their mental health experiences, including "Supernatural" star Jared Padalecki. "Supernatural" is a paranormal drama about two brothers and their relentless fight against all that goes bump in the night, starring Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. Over 13 seasons, the show has developed a cult following.

In March 2015, Padalecki started a movement. What started as a t-shirt campaign to benefit mental health charities soon swelled into something bigger.

Image Credit: Jared Padalecki

What is this movement, you ask?

Always Keep Fighting.

And what does this mean, exactly?

That no matter what comes your way- you make a choice to carry on. Your life is worth living. And you are worth fighting for.

In a 2015 interview with People magazine, Padalecki said, "People who are dealing with depression and addiction or suicidal thoughts or mental illness...they’re strong. You’re strong because you’ve been in this fight and you wake up thinking you’re going to beat it again today."

The campaign raised $250,000 and went viral. Fans began purchasing shirts for those who could not afford it. Even those without a shirt began using #AlwaysKeepFighting to share their own struggles. This was one of the most notable instances of fans carrying on the charitable efforts of the cast.

Image Credit: Jared Padalecki

Six campaigns followed and thousands of shirts were sold, establishing The Pack Fund. This donor-advised fund gives grants to organizations such as To Write Love on Her Arms, Attitudes in Reverse, Random Acts, The Wounded Warrior Project, and St. Jude's. This campaign was crucial in the development of the SPNFamily Crisis Support Network, an initiative by Ackles and co-star Misha Collins. The network trains volunteers in mental health crisis support and pairs them with fans in need. This campaign's slogan was You Are Never Alone, and at the end of the campaign, over 10,000 shirts had been sold and 1,500 fans had volunteered.

Image Credit: Random Acts

In addition to starting a movement, the stars were among the first to coin the term #SPNFamily (abbreviation for Supernatural), to describe the family-like nature of their fans.The idea spread like wildfire amongst the community and is now used to refer to the fandom.

Things did not stop there. In Fall 2015, fans attending a "Supernatural" convention in New Jersey raised $1,500 for Attitudes in Reverse. They have also started messaging boards for fans to share their experiences and continue to support each other.

The community has only grown stronger since. Fans are known to comfort each other (even if they are total strangers!) online and in person and to offer all the help they can to multiple causes. It is not uncommon to see social media users to use #SPNFamily to raise awareness for their own causes because the family will always help.

Co-star Misha Collins started the charity Random Acts in 2009, an organization dedicated to promoting acts of kindness worldwide. To date, Random Acts has donated thousands of dollars towards the education of children in Nicaragua and Haiti, as well as helped build a school. They also offer funding to a multitude of fan-proposed projects.

Another campaign was started by former co-star Genevieve Padalecki (Ruby the demon and Jared's wife!) to benefit Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Project in honor of the birth of their daughter.

Image Credit: Genevieve Padalecki

The most recent SPNFamily effort has been to aid those affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, called Stronger Than Storms. Ackles and his wife Danneel launched a crowdfunding page through their brewery, The Family Business Beer Company. To date, the effort has raised over $450,000. Since then, the Padaleckis have launched another campaign with Pop & Suki to benefit the fund.

Image Credit: Family Business Beer Co.

The impact of the #SPNFamily is immeasurable. What started as one person's desire to spread awareness has impacted countless lives and cemented a legacy.

If you remember nothing else from this article, know this. If you are suffering from a mental illness- you do not have to suffer alone. Help is available, and people want to help you.

Always Keep Fighting.


If you or someone you know is struggling, these hotlines may be of help:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
1-800-273-8255

The Trevor Project:
1-866-488-7386

Crisis Text Line:
Text "START" to 741-741

IMALIVE:
1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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Sorry Not Sorry, My Parents Paid For My Coachella Trip

No haters are going to bring me down.
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With Coachella officially over, lives can go back to normal and we can all relive Beyonce’s performance online for years to come. Or, if you were like me and actually there, you can replay the experience in your mind for the rest of your life, holding dear to the memories of an epic weekend and a cultural experience like no other on the planet.

And I want to be clear about the Beyonce show: it really was that good.

But with any big event beloved by many, there will always be the haters on the other side. The #nochella’s, the haters of all things ‘Chella fashion. And let me just say this, the flower headbands aren’t cultural appropriation, they’re simply items of clothing used to express the stylistic tendency of a fashion-forward event.

Because yes, the music, and sure, the art, but so much of what Coachella is, really, is about the fashion and what you and your friends are wearing. It's supposed to be fun, not political! Anyway, back to the main point of this.

One of the biggest things people love to hate on about Coachella is the fact that many of the attendees have their tickets bought for them by their parents.

Sorry? It’s not my fault that my parents have enough money to buy their daughter and her friends the gift of going to one of the most amazing melting pots of all things weird and beautiful. It’s not my fault about your life, and it’s none of your business about mine.

All my life, I’ve dealt with people commenting on me, mostly liking, but there are always a few that seem upset about the way I live my life.

One time, I was riding my dolphin out in Turks and Cacaos, (“riding” is the act of holding onto their fin as they swim and you sort of glide next to them. It’s a beautiful, transformative experience between human and animal and I really think, when I looked in my dolphin’s eye, that we made a connection that will last forever) and someone I knew threw shade my way for getting to do it.

Don’t make me be the bad guy.

I felt shame for years after my 16th birthday, where my parents got me an Escalade. People at school made fun of me (especially after I drove into a ditch...oops!) and said I didn’t deserve the things I got in life.

I can think of a lot of people who probably don't deserve the things in life that they get, but you don't hear me hating on them (that's why we vote, people). Well, I’m sick of being made to feel guilty about the luxuries I’m given, because they’ve made me who I am, and I love me.

I’m a good person.

I’m not going to let the Coachella haters bring me down anymore. Did my parents buy my ticket and VIP housing? Yes. Am I sorry about that? Absolutely not.

Sorry, not sorry!

Cover Image Credit: Kaycie Allen

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A Thank You To The Boy Who Stayed During My Depression

You held my hand when everything around me was crumbling.
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Hey you,

Thanks for staying by my side when I didn’t want to stay myself. You have shown me such a huge amount of love, respect, and inspiration. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be going through such a hard time with someone who is as steady as a rock. Thank you for saying that you love me, because it brings me peace throughout the day.

You have taught me to persevere and keep going. You are one of the only reasons I wake up in the morning and try to go on with my day. You have taught me to love myself despite my flaws. You never give up on me even when I give up on myself. You don't know how much it means to me to know that I have your continual support. You stayed when others have walked away. Not too many people know about depression and the effects it has. You're one of a few, and you choose to stay through it all. You are the light in the darkness. You constantly remind me that you’re here to stay and you’re not going to leave despite the struggle.

Thank you for reminding me that my depression does not define me, that I am more than this. I know its tough to stand tall when the person you care about is crumbling, but you do it without fear.

I’ll never be able to thank you for what you have done and continue to do for me. It takes someone unbelievably strong to hold someone’s hand and guide them through something this tough.

Thank you for being that unbelievably strong person.

I love you.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels.com

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