Signing a "Promise to Talk" About Mental Health

May 16, 2017 Christy Cornwall


The lime green park bench is hard to miss – and that’s the point. It’s designed to call attention to an issue that is often overlooked.

Recognizing that when it comes to health, peoples’ minds deserve the same attention as their bodies, Mission Hospital is activating California’s Mental Health Movement, Each Mind Matters in south Orange County. The initiative is uniting millions of people from the region and throughout the state to share a vision of improved mental health and reminding people of the importance of having caring conversations about mental health.

“Encouraging people to talk openly and honestly with one another about their thoughts and feelings is so crucial to improving mental health, and that’s what this is all about,” says Christy Cornwall, director of community benefit at Mission Hospital. “It’s inspiring to see our community members opening their hearts and minds and understanding that mental health has equal importance to physical health.”

Now in its second year, the effort is reminding people that starting conversations in a safe way means making a promise to both talk and listen. Doing so leads to early support and help that can reduce needless suffering and even save lives.

According to the team of experts at Mission Hospital, a conversation is a great first step to help people feel safe to open up about sensitive issues. A simple talk or call is a meaningful start to let someone know they are understood and that someone is truly listening to them.

The green bench is an important piece of the effort. Adorned in the national color for mental health awareness, the portable bench is a reminder about the importance of starting a caring conversation about mental health in a safe, comfortable and familiar space.

Mission Hospital is taking a unique approach through public outreach that actively encourages residents to “Promise to Talk” openly and honestly about mental health. This message and call to action is being shared in neighborhoods by outreach teams, community event participation, bus advertising, door-to-door canvassing, local print and broadcast public service announcements, and more.

The lime green bench appears regularly at local south Orange County events, civic centers, community facilities, schools, shopping areas, events and more. It functions as a local icon for mental health and support. Mission Hospital has earned the top award for best public outreach initiative in the Western U.S. for its bilingual campaign from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

To see when the bench is coming to your neighborhood in 2017, go to or #promisetotalk!

Community members are encouraged to make their “Promise to Talk” today. Individuals may make a promise at, through @PromiseToTalk via Facebook or Twitter, or in person at events where Mission Hospital is participating with Each Mind Matters. Several thousand south county residents already have made the promise.

For tips on how to start a conversation, or to learn more about local mental health services, go to

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.



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