“Promise to Talk” about mental health to improve health and quality of life in our communities

[4 minute read]

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and in honor of this, Providence’s Mission Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, and St. Jude Medical Center activated Each Mind Matters, California’s mental health movement, in Orange County through the multilingual Promise to Talk Initiative. Through this initiative, Providence is encouraging people to “promise to talk” with their friends and family about mental health.

This month, we sponsored community bench painting events in nine parks across four cities and invited community members to join us in painting the benches lime green, the national color for mental health awareness. These benches serve as highly visual reminders of the importance of having a safe space for caring conversations about mental health and wellness.

When it comes to health, our minds deserve the same attention as our bodies

Mental health is an essential part of our general well-being as well as our ability to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships and contribute to our communities and society. At different times in our lives, individuals can experience periods of poor mental health; others may live with a serious mental illness for their entire life. With one in five Americans experiencing a mental illness or disorder each year and over half being diagnosed with one at some point in their life, it has become increasingly important to normalize conversations about mental health and also to remove the stigma around seeking treatment for poor mental health or a mental illness. These are key components of the Promise to Talk Initiative and the vision behind the community events Providence hosted in Orange County this month.

Multilingual graphics from the "Promise to Talk" social media account.

Promise to talk and promise to listen

This initiative encourages people to “promise to talk,” but what does this mean? It’s a commitment to make a greater effort in being open and honest about mental health and mental illness as well as being willing to talk with others in your life, like family members, friends, and community members, about these sometimes-difficult topics. Starting a conversation can be a great first step to helping someone feel safe to share about what they may be going through or how they are feeling. It can be very meaningful for someone to feel heard and understood, so it is equally, if not more important, to also listen. These conversations can lead individuals to getting the support they need earlier and that can not only reduce needless suffering but could also save lives.

The green benches play an important role initiative, as a reminder of the importance of starting conversations about mental health in a safe, comfortable, and familiar space.  People can sometimes feel shame or embarrassment about discussing their mental health and these feelings can often be barriers to reaching out for help when they need it. Open and honest conversations can help improve community understanding, acceptance, and support of mental health and wellness. It’s as easy as having a short chat sharing how you are feeling; this can be all someone needs to feel comfortable sharing their own story.

In addition, Promise to Talk is a multilingual campaign, with information and resources available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese. This allows us to better live our mission of serving all and helps address language and access barriers that community members face when seeking trusted health resources and tools.

How to get involved

To make a “Promise to Talk” or to find mental health resources, please visit: Mental Health | Promise to Talk.

How to get support for yourself or others

Only a mental health professional can diagnose someone with a mental illness. If you or someone you know is going through difficulties with mental health, it’s important to speak up. Talk to a trusted friend, family member or professional. This is the first step to recovery.

The California Peer-Run Warm Line is a non-emergency resource for anyone seeking emotional support. Call 1-855-845-7415.

If you are feeling suicidal or if you are concerned about someone, there is help available right now. A trained counselor is ready to talk and provide help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or for Español call (888) 628-9454. This a free 24-hour hotline that has TTY capability via one of its national call centers, which can be accessed by calling (800) 799-4TTY (4889).

For more information, check out Promise to Talk’s Get Help website.


Visit our Annual Report to our Communities page

To learn more about what we’re doing to help our caregivers and other community partners, check out our Annual Report to our Communities.

Related resources

The power of partnership: Strengthening global health, together

Providence programs bring health disparities to light during Minority Health Month

The Power of 50 Pounds (providence.org)

About the Author

Community Partnerships is a division that aligns the influence of Providence to create stronger communities, raise awareness, and illuminate a pathway that inspires all to serve. Through partnerships, we work to improve the health of our nation and achieve our goal of Health for a Better World.

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