IN THE TRAGIC WAKE OF KATE SPADE’S DEATH, NEVER FORGET THAT YOU ARE ENOUGH

I will never forget the feeling of owning my very first Kate Spade New York bag. I was a junior in high school, and the feeling of beauty and significance it gave me, ready to tackle the world, will be with me forever.

As news headlines flashed about Spade’s suicide, hearts across the world broke and wondered how someone so creative, beautiful, and successful could take their own life. So I couldn’t help becoming emotional when I heard the plans Spade’s namesake company set in place to use this tragedy to change lives everywhere.

In the wake Spade’s death, her company has decided to use their platform to support mental health and suicide prevention. Kate Spade NY has pledged to donate more than $1 million to support mental health and plans to match donations of others between June 20th through June 29th.

In addition to the donations, Kate Spade NY has put forth a “wellness program” that will launch in a few months. This program will include a Global Mental Health Awareness Day, and it will also include a curriculum to educate employees about common risks and signs related to mental health.

Mental health isn’t something we often discuss openly, or at least not in the same way that other illnesses are. We don’t talk about the 44,965 people who die by suicide each year in the United States because of the stigma that sadly still exists around mental illness. The media and public often speculate that each life lost to suicide had something to do with drug use, relationship problems, abuse, or stress from work.

This type of reaction to suicide does not paint mental illness as the life-threatening disease that it is.

How can we as a society stop isolating those who suffer from mental illnesses like depression, and provide the same resources and care that would be provided to someone suffering from cancer?

It starts small, and it starts with you. At FPG we’ve made our company culture the center of everything we do. We believe in assuring every employee, every client, and everyone we come in contact with that they are enough.

We craft our company culture around something called the FPG Results Matrix. The idea is that the way you’re programmed leads to your beliefs, which leads to your emotions, which leads to your motivations, which leads to your behavior, which leads to your results. Unfortunately, many have been programmed to view mental illness as a taboo topic. As a result, people who need help are ultimately ostracized, and that leads them to feel denied, condemned and despised. That just furthers the spiral.

If we can individually change the way we are societally programmed to think about mental illness, we can eventually change the stigma around mental illness, provide more resources and support for those suffering, and ultimately save lives. We may not be able to change people’s neurochemistry, but we can change how we view and respond to those who are struggling. I want everyone to feel support, inspiration and love, especially those who are struggling. In fact, that’s FPG’s mission in the world.

Mental health does not discriminate. It can be difficult to diagnose, and it can be difficult for those affected to seek help. We need to reshape society’s views on mental health to stand together with one another instead of isolating those who are hurting. You never know what is going on in someone else’s life, and you are born with the power to change lives. We need to encourage those in pain to seek help. We need to do more.

Let’s reflect on the loss of Kate Spade in the same way her company is, with a drive to change our world into a place where people feel comfortable seeking help.

I want you to remember that no matter where you are in your life, no matter what challenges are in front of you, and no matter your neurochemistry, you have the power to change lives, and your life is worth living.

You are always enough.

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