“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.
FAQ: What We Do And Why It Matters
Hope For The Day was created in the hopes of elevating a culture of outspokenness when it comes to mental health. We’ve been on a tear lately, opening the world’s first coffee shop where 100% of the proceeds support proactive suicide prevention, and wrapping up another summer on Vans Warped Tour where founder, Jonny Boucher has delivered speeches on mental health across the country. Needless to say, it’s already been an eventful year for Hope For The Day. With the wave of media attention and an influx of people with questions about the enterprise and a passion for getting involved, we thought it best to reintroduce ourselves.
What is Hope For The Day?
Hope For The Day is a nonprofit organization that achieves proactive suicide prevention through outreach, education, and activism on mental health.
What is Sip of Hope?
Sip of Hope is the world’s first coffee shop where 100% of the NET proceeds support proactive suicide prevention. It is run by Hope For The Day and serves Dark Matter coffee. All profits support Hope For The Day’s outreach and education programs, and beyond functioning as a charity, it is the rallying point of our proactive approach; a place to share experiences and gather resources on treatment and support. While Sip of Hope is not a clinic and does not provide direct services, it does provide information on a wide range of local and national mental health services. All baristas are mental health first aid certified in case of crisis, and many can offer lived experience peer support. It is a safe and welcoming place for all. Come in and tell us about your day!
What is “proactive” prevention?
Our mission is to be proactive in our suicide prevention because reactive approaches, like talking about suicide after crisis occurs, is ineffective and perpetuates mental health stigma. When we are proactive we raise the visibility of resources, engage our community members in conversations about their mental health before crisis, and make sure everyone knows “It’s Ok Not To Be Ok.”
Why does proactive suicide prevention matter?
1 in 4 people report a mental health crisis in their life and globally, over 800,000 suicides are reported each year. That doesn’t account for those left unreported. In America alone, over 121 individuals complete suicide on a daily basis.
Suicide is a mental health crisis that is preventable.
It is important to understand that mental health crisis arises when someone perceives there are no resources available to end their suffering. Unfortunately the long-held stigma of mental health has averted communities from making resources accessible, let alone fostering environments where it’s okay to talk about one’s mental health. This has resulted in a difficulty to communicate our internal experiences, and too often the psychological impact an experience has on our daily lives goes unaddressed.
Proactive suicide prevention matters because we will reduce suicide rates when we break the silence of stigma that prevents individuals from expressing themselves, and confront mental health challenges before crisis. When we raise the visibility of resources, we guide individuals to accessible treatment and support. When we learn how to manage our mental health challenges, we treat them the same as we would physical injury—before they get worse. When we share our experiences with others, individuals feel compelled to share their inner worlds too, reminding us “we are all in this together.”
What exactly does Hope For The Day do?
Hope For The Day operates on a 3 prong action plan encompassing our Outreach, Education, and Activism initiatives.
By raising the visibility of resources and information in our communities we act as a bridge between individuals and treatment and support. We also break the silence of stigma by pressing the conversation on mental health.
To provide resources to our communities we create digital and visual campaigns to drive the conversation across entertainment and social platforms; through film, music, photography, and social media. So far our media output has engaged more than 4 million individuals and we expect that number to rise.
We also distribute physical resource cards, providing information to immediate support. We have distributed over 1 million resource cards at events across the globe in 17 different languages.
With our Partners in Prevention, Live Nation and Vans Warped Tour, we conduct field outreach at live events and engage with as many audience members as possible. This is where we hand out our resource cards and speak directly to concert-goers about mental health. We have accomplished more than 1,000 live event actions, engaging more than 1 million individuals in 49 states in America, and 26 countries around the world.
Sip of Hope is our latest outreach endeavor and it allows us to directly engage with our Chicago community in a welcoming, supportive atmosphere. It is the first coffee shop in the world where 100% of the proceeds go towards proactive suicide prevention and local and national resources are made visible and accessible in house.
Our educational programming empowers diverse populations with information on mental health care for themselves and others. We visit schools and community spaces and utilize a wide range of tools to install ongoing awareness and education on mental health care. Some of these tools include resource packs, mental health online screenings, proactive prevention workshops, and educational presentations like “Talk Saves Lives” and “Things We Don’t Say.”
So far we have deployed over 15,000 resource packs since December 2016 and facilitated more than 3,800 mental health online screenings since September 2016.
Mental Health First Aid is also a vital tool in proactive suicide prevention and the core foundation for effective mental health education. Our certification classes involve an 8 hour course that teaches attendees how to help someone developing a mental health challenge or experiencing a mental health crisis.
Hope For The Day is adamant about educating as many people as possible on mental health care. The only obstacle that prevents us from sharing our knowledge with everyone (beyond fiscal limitations) is the institutional resistance to implementation compelled by stigma and a fear to open up dialogue.
Hope For The Day mobilizes individuals and communities to foster proactive environments. Our Agents of Impact and Partners in Prevention work as activists to implement our proactive approach, providing outreach and education to our community spaces.
What is an Agent of Impact?
Our Agents of Impact are individuals who raise the visibility of resources, push the conversation on mental health, share experiences, give representation to unique mental health challenges, volunteer to hand out information at events, and educate the community on mental health care. If you would like to learn more and/or become an Agent of Impact please visit our website and contact us through our online form.
What is a Partner in Prevention?
A Partner in Prevention is a business or organization that works with us to raise the visibility of resources by donating proceeds for educational programming and providing field outreach opportunities. Some of our Partners in Prevention are Dark Matter Coffee, Live Nation, Vans Warped Tour, Neck Deep, USA Mental Health First Aid, and American Foundation For Suicide Prevention. If you would like to learn more and/or become a Partner in Prevention please visit our website and contact us through our online form.
Why do we use a compass in our logo?
The compass symbolizes the way we start the conversation on mental health and help people find their individual path. No mental health challenge is the same, but we are here to direct you to the resources and support you need to overcome anything you’re going through.
Why do we say “completed” suicide?
Language is powerful. We use the phrasing “completed” suicide or “died by” suicide to break mental health stigma and express suicide as the extreme untreated end of the spectrum of mental health care in general. We DO NOT say, “committed suicide” or “killed themselves” because this is criminal terminology and using it often demonizes individuals who have suffered in silence. By saying “completed” suicide, Hope For The Day’s programming changes social policies and rejects the social and cultural factors that try to dictate how we express ourselves. Stigma rules everything, but we can break it by showing compassion with our word choice.
Why do we say “Have Hope?”
We say “Have Hope” because having a mental health challenge or diagnosis does not mean it’s the end of someone’s life. There is treatment and proper support and although managing mental health challenges can take time, there is hope to find a better quality of life.
Why do we say “It’s Ok Not To Be Ok?”
Mental health affects all of us. We say “It’s Ok Not To Be Ok” to break the stigma and open up a conversation on our mental health. It is a phrase that provides peer support and reminds us that it’s healthy to talk about our experiences.
How can I get involved?
Whether you are a long-standing advocate for mental health care, or have direct experience with mental health challenges or crises, we would love to welcome you into our family of activists. By becoming an Agent of Impact or a Partner in Prevention you will raise the visibility of resources in your community spaces, including homes, schools, work environments, places of worship etc. and break the stigma on mental health by driving the conversation across entertainment, social, and professional platforms.
Here are a few things you can do to implement our proactive approach:
Do not wait until crisis arises to talk about mental health. You can break the stigma by talking about your own mental health and encouraging others to speak out as well. If you know someone who may be dealing with a mental health challenge, direct them to resources or lead the way to places like Sip of Hope where they can gather resources for themselves, friends, or family members. Engage your peers, colleagues, and families in discussions about mental health. If we can change our perception and stop seeing mental health as a taboo topic, we can communicate our experiences before pressure even has time to build. When we are open and honest about our internal experiences, it becomes more apparent that “we are all in this together.”
For more information about how to get involved please visit our website.
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)