Hi, How Are You Project and American Campus Communities Drive Awareness for May Mental Health Month with Second Annual Online Pledge to Ask Others “Hi, How Are You?”
10,000 pledges will unlock a grant of $10,000 to help Austin-based, Daniel Johnston-inspired nonprofit continue to destigmatize mental health conversations
AUSTIN, Texas (April 29, 2021) -- The Hi, How Are You Project (HHAYP) and their annual hero sponsor American Campus Communities (NYSE: ACC) have kicked off their second annual Hi, How Are You Pledge for people to check in on others and build a community of support in driving awareness about mental health for Mental Health Awareness Month, which starts today.
Currently, one out of every five adults struggle with their mental health and two out of three people with a mental illness do not seek help. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), suicide is the second leading cause of death among college-aged students. Additionally, a preview of new data from ACC’s spring survey of its college student residents reveals that 87% of students are somewhat or considerably more stressed this year than compared to years prior to the pandemic, with 41% saying they would like more informational resources on mental health and wellness and stress management.
To help, HHAYP and ACC are encouraging everyone to sign the pledge: “Because mental health matters, I pledge to ask others Hi, How Are You?” online at www.hihowareyou.com/pledge and by sharing on social media using the hashtags #hihowareyoupledge and #mentalhealthmatters. The pledge is free and takes moments to sign, with the hope that people everywhere will feel encouraged to check in on each other and talk more openly about mental well-being. For a total of 10,000 online pledges taken, ACC has committed to unlocking a grant of $10,000 which will specifically go towards Hi, How Are You Project’s efforts geared to the college-age demographic.
“Our mission is based on four simple words, to ask neighbors, friends, co-workers and even strangers ‘Hi, How Are You?’ to help spark conversations around mental health and prioritize those who need help in dealing with anxiety, depression, and other mental health related issues that affect so many of us,” said Courtney Blanton, co-founder of Hi, How Are You Project. “This month is no different. We want to engage an online community of support to help us in spreading awareness and truly take action by reaching out to others and bringing light to this conversation in Austin and around the globe.”
For the first time, HHAYP and ACC will publicly release a series of “how-to” peer-to-peer support videos, directed by Emmy and Peabody Award winner Thaddeus Matula, to help college-aged students open up dialogues on mental health issues and learn to have a “Hi, How Are You?” conversation throughout May and well into the future. And to accompany and promote this year’s pledge campaign, the Hi, How Are You Project created this animated VIDEO featuring artwork, illustrations and music from the late Daniel Johnston. With all donations received by HHAYP during the month of May, starting at a $30 one-time tier, brand new and limited edition Start the Conversation Socks will be sent as an exclusive thank you gift. The socks feature Johnston’s classic ‘Jeremiah the Innocent’ character, the Project’s friendly-frog ambassador who always helps to foster conversations around mental health.
ACC provides student housing options for more than 140,000 college students and together with the HHAYP has trained staff at more than 200 communities to provide peer-to-peer support to destigmatize conversations around mental wellness and mental health resources. The training teaches how to recognize the signs of mental distress in residents and co-workers, how to respond and how to connect people with resources, and it is now a part of onboarding for all new hires.
“Together with the Hi, How Are You Project, we are reminding college student residents that productive dialogues are an essential component to mental health and wellness, and that our community assistants are trained to be resources," said Bill Bayless, chief executive officer at American Campus Communities and Hi, How Are You Project board member. “We are committed to raising the visibility about the importance of breaking down the stigma around mental illness, which helps ensure we provide communities that are always welcoming and conducive to students’ personal and academic success.”
Through the College Student Fall 2020 Mental Health Report , ACC and HHAYP were able to get a better sense as to how students are feeling and what they’re doing to maintain strong mental health and well-being given the dynamics of COVID-19.The survey captured more than 12,000 ACC resident responses from incoming freshmen to graduate students at 65 campuses across the U.S. The survey revealed that 93 percent of students surveyed agree or strongly agree their mental health is an important component of their overall health and wellbeing, with 66 percent saying that COVID-19 has forced them to take a closer look at their mental health.
The data proves that this effort has become more crucial than ever. To sign the pledge, please visit https://hihowareyou.org/pledge and follow the organization at @hihowareyouproject on social media for giveaways and other updates happening from May 1 through May 31.
About Hi, How Are You Project
The Hi, How Are You Project’s (HHAYP) mission is to remove the stigma around mental health, one conversation at a time. The name and city-proclaimed HHAY Day were inspired by Austin’s love for the iconic mural painted by the late, great Daniel Johnston. On January 22nd (Johnston’s birthday), people everywhere are encouraged to check in on a neighbor, friend, co-worker, family member, or loved one and ask, “Hi, How Are You?” The Project, created with the support of the Johnston family, creates media, events, and peer-to-peer training programs that encourage open dialogue on mental well-being. Johnston was a world-renowned musician and visual artist despite his own struggles with mental illness. To learn more about how you can get involved or to donate, please visit www.hihowareyou.org.
About American Campus Communities
American Campus Communities, Inc. is the largest owner, manager and developer of high-quality student housing communities in the United States. The company is a fully integrated, self-managed and self-administered equity real estate investment trust (REIT) with expertise in the design, finance, development, construction management and operational management of student housing properties. As of March 31, 2021, American Campus Communities owned 166 student housing properties containing approximately 111,900 beds. Including its owned and third-party managed properties, ACC's total managed portfolio consisted of 207 properties with approximately 142,400 beds. Visit www.americancampus.com.