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Health & Wellness

mhNOW: How Entrepreneurs, Companies and Organizations Are Coming Together to Improve Mental Health

BasicNeeds, an mhNOW partner, organizes routine meetings with community members in Ghana to help address mental health needs
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How many times have you have heard the phrase “mind over matter”?

It’s an expression that’s often used–even overused–in situations where people doubt their ability to achieve a goal, or perhaps experience physical pain.

Although this saying is intended to be a motivating force, it can be anything but that for people struggling with mental health conditions. In a mind-over-matter world, these people often hold back from seeking help for a variety of reasons, including stigma, denial and poor access to care.

This hesitancy to speak out about mental health is not surprising, given society’s tendency to assume that people can overcome mental barriers by simply trying harder. To put that into perspective, we would never consider challenging someone with a broken leg to climb a mountain.

Some disabilities aren’t easily visible–and mental health challenges can be formidable obstacles.

Fortunately, mental health advocates are gaining momentum, and the availability of robust scientific data is helping to elevate this overlooked challenge onto the global stage. In fact, mental health has been recognized as part of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as an essential ingredient to achieving healthy lives and well-being for all.

This is a big step forward. After all, 1 in every 4 people globally will be affected by mental disorders at some point in their lives.

mhNOW: A Mental Health Global Call to Action

And now, the mental health community has gained a tremendous new partner with the formation of mhNOW, a global call to action to assemble social entrepreneurs, organizations and companies to unify efforts and identify innovative mental health solutions that can be scaled up in communities across the world. Johnson & Johnson is a founding member, along with Global Development Incubator, Grand Challenges Canada, BasicNeeds and StrongMinds.

Many effective mental health resources and solutions already exist, and with the help of our mhNOW partners, we hope to revolutionize how the world addresses the challenges of mental health to be more compassionate, more inclusive and just plain smarter.

The World Health Organization predicts that if left unaddressed, depression will become the leading cause of disease burden globally by 2030—surpassing cancer, as well as infectious and cardiovascular diseases.

Good mental health underpins so many of the decisions we make that keep us from harm. Those suffering from mental illness are less likely to seek treatment for an ailment, negotiate safer health practices with their partners or maintain employment to pay for medical treatment—all of which can lead to other unintended consequences.

So as mhNOW embarks on its journey, there is an important first step anyone can take: Reassure those who struggle with a mental health condition that their pain is not going unnoticed.
There is no shame in suffering–the only shame is the stigma that stops people from seeking help for conditions we have the power to treat.

Bonnie Petrauskas is Executive Director, Worldwide Corporate Contributions, at Johnson & Johnson. She leads strategic philanthropic efforts focused on empowering communities to achieve long-term differences in human health.

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