Now, Kilgore is helping New York City's First Lady, Chirlane McCray, remind people that they, too, are allowed to take back their time, especially when it comes to mental health.
The two teamed up to release a video on Sunday, which was World Suicide Prevention Day, that built from Kilgore's viral video. "On this
#SuicidePreventionDay, we're reclaiming time for mental health because there's always hope and there's always help," the first lady tweeted.
"'Reclaiming My Time' was a powerful demonstration of resistance," McCray tells Refinery29. "I want our messages about mental health to convey the same level of urgency."
More than 800,000 people die by suicide every year, according to the International Association for Suicide Prevention, up to 25 times more make an attempt. "As members of communities, it is our responsibility to look out for those who may be struggling, check in with them, and encourage them to tell their story in their own way and at their own pace," the IASP wrote on their website.
That's exactly what McCray and Kilgore aim to do with this video, by breaking the stigma and silence that often surrounds conversations about mental health.
"We’ve already lost so many people to suicide nationwide," McCray says. "On average, five young people take their lives every day. And every single one of those deaths can be prevented."
Stigma can be even greater in communities of color, she says, for whom mental health resources are often already less available.
"Nevertheless, we want people to know that they don’t have to stay in a state of distress and despair, and that help is available," she says. McCray launched the NYC Well program last October, which gives NYC residents free, confidential connection to a mental health support network any time they need it.
"We want everyone to know that they are not alone. There’s hope, there’s help and there is someone to talk to," McCray says. The number is 1-888-NYC-WELL, and offers help to anyone who is in mental distress or needs support or referral to mental health services. Helpline counselors speak Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese, and NYC Well offers translation in more than 200 languages.
Through NYC Well, the first lady and her staff are also tackling stigma through testimonials from New Yorkers who have overcome conditions like anxiety, addiction, and depression, as well as advertising on subways, bus stops, television, and online.
This video, the helpline, and everything else coming from NYC Well are all a way for McCray to help New Yorkers "normalize conversations about mental health so that it becomes second nature — and people feel comfortable sharing their experiences," she says.
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