City of Brotherly Love Makes a Promise to Listen

#IWillListen Day at Love Park in Philadelphia

Credit: NAMI-NYC Metro

All of us at NAMI-NYC Metro and the #IWillListen campaign are thrilled with the success of #IWillListen Day Philadelphia! Thousands of Philadelphians came out to make their pledge to listen, without judgment, to their friends and loved ones impacted by mental illness. Our mental health fair buzzed with activity in Love Park, with dozens of behavioral health organizations from around the city, as well as policy makers, government officials, mental health advocates, family members, and individuals, coming together with one simple goal: to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

Over 2,000 people came to Love Park to show their support and dozens of organizations held #IWillListen events at sites across the city. We were inspired by the messages of hope, community, and perseverance shared throughout the day. The press helped to spread the word too, and nearly every major news outlet in Philadelphia covered the event! By the end of the day, most Philadelphians seemed to know about the campaign. Our Executive Director, Wendy Brennan, told me that, on her way back to New York City, a vendor at 30th Street station asked about her #IWillListen t-shirt. Wendy explained that it was about a mental health anti-stigma campaign. The vendor replied “Oh yes, that’s what’s happening all over the city today.”

We’d like to thank all of our partners, most notably the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbilities Services, The Thomas Scattergood Foundation, and Box of Stars. These organizations are leaders in the field of mental health advocacy and true champions of the cause. Despite the rain, Joe Pyle, President of Scattergood, insisted that the free concert take place. As scheduled, Box of Stars, led by Ted Richardson, kicked off the music with many talented local artists and Dr. Arthur Evans, Commissioner of DBHIDS and a national leader in mental health, was seen still mingling at the event late in the afternoon, long after the rain compelled the less hearty to seek cover.

I’d also like to thank NAMI-NYC Metro’s Board President Barbara Ricci. Without her superior networking skills and persistence, #IWillListen Day Philadelphia simply would not have happened.

What’s next for #IWillListen? We have many exciting plans in the works, including #IWillListen Days at college campuses and workplaces nation-wide and, hopefully, bringing the campaign back to the Big Apple for our very own #IWillListen New York City Day!

#IWillListen Philly reminded us how meaningful three simple words can be. Thank you to all of our partners who made the day a huge success.

– Colleen Kane
NAMI-NYC Metro Director of Development and Communications and #IWillListen Campaign Director