"No Magic Wand"
Hope for the Day’s Jonny Boucher Starts the Conversation on Mental Health and Keeps it Rolling By Amanda Rozmer
The early summer sun is cutting through the dust of an open field. People line up for what seems like miles, anxiously waiting to see their favorite bands play the songs that soundtrack their lives; they clutch tickets, wristbands, sunscreen, as they excitedly talk to others around them. Backstage, Hope for the Day’s CEO and Founder Jonny Boucher chats with band members and long time friends from the Warped Tour lineup. Jonny speaks on stage between certain sets of bands whose discography of music speak to the very concept he’s dedicated his professional life to, and a swell of emotion hits the waiting crowd as they hear his words of uplifting support: we are in this together.
For the past five years, HFTD has been touring with Vans Warped Tour, employing their particular brand of proactive prevention and mental health education to the masses of attendees and giving them the knowledge and support to bring the conversation back home with them to friends and family alike.
Jonny Boucher has spent several years putting in time in the city’s music industry. His deep-seated passion for the importance of music in our lives reached a more personal level when his boss, mentor, and friend, Mike Scandland, completed suicide in 2010. This moment became the final straw, the catalyst for his efforts to break into the conversation of mental health and suicide prevention. To bring the conversation to the forefront, Jonny founded Hope for the Day.
In 2011, HFTD began in some of the local Chicago music venues that Jonny was familiar with. Outreach was the consistent theme, simply being visible in a supportive community and letting its members know that they had the power to help and be helped in ongoing mental health challenges. Jonny created literature on local resources to hand out, and would speak on stage at the venues whenever possible, lending a voice to the silent masses of members within the music community that felt previously unnoticed. His effort to bring acknowledgment to the validity of these everyday challenges was his way of honoring the lives of not only Mike, but several other members of Jonny’s family and friend group that also completed suicide. He already felt the connection between art, music, and its consumers, and in this world he found a ubiquitous, easily accessible platform from which to spark a conversation before a crisis arises and ran with it.
The community’s response to this niche form of outreach grew wildly and began overflowing beyond the doors of these venues, carried into the daily lives and regular haunts of those touched by Jonny’s words and mission. These motivated individuals began asking Jonny how they could expand the conversation around mental health awareness and integrate it into their businesses, social settings, et cetera. With Jonny’s penchant for goal setting and the communities’ positive reception of the need for such outreach and programming, HFTD gained more traction.
According to Jonny, what’s most important about being an advocate for outreach in the realm of mental health is that “we must meet people where they are, and not where we expect them to be”, meaning that the way we engage those we encounter who are experiencing a mental health challenge must be adaptable. At the root of it, we must enter into any situation with compassion, patience, and understanding of where someone is coming from.
As it stands today, HFTD is a thriving Chicago-based non-profit fleshed out by compassionate individuals, most with lived experience, aiming to employ a three-pronged mission of outreach, education, and action in a uniquely unprecedented way. Hope for the Day has created an action plan to empower communities to employ proactive suicide prevention. Being proactive means making the conversation around mental health so fluid and consistent, that those in need of help feel comforted and encouraged to speak about their challenges long before they reach a crisis, and keeping the conversation open afterward. Through solid partnerships with bands, local companies, venues, other non-profits, et cetera, we are able to truly meet people experiencing mental health challenges where they are at in their individual communities. The aim of HFTD is to foster an understanding community meant to link its members in need to the most effective resources near them that will help them better manage and maintain mental health. From supportive figures within communities to certified clinicians, we serve as the link to connect those in need of help to those that can help them the most.
Since 2011, Hope for the Day has been reaching out and helping start the conversation on mental health. Through his life experiences and a motivation to help end the pattern of pain he had been noticing, Jonny Boucher and Hope for the Day have created a network of individuals dedicated to making a soft place to land when the outside world is too much.
IT'S OK NOT TO BE OK
If you or someone you know needs help, reach out;
Crisis Text Line
TEXT “ITSOK” TO 741741 (Available 24/7)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255(TALK) - Press 1 for Veterans Line
The Trevor Project LGBT Lifeline
866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386) (Available 24/7)