Tommy Hilfiger has never made a secret of the fact that he’s dyslexic. In fact, he’s attributed some of his success as a designer to the disorder. Now he’s taking his message to another audience — children — as part of the Child Mind Institute’s social media campaign, bowing in May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month.
The campaign, #MyYoungerSelf, features actors, designers, athletes, authors and politicians sharing videos about growing up with mental health or learning disorders. Looking back in hindsight, they offer advice to their younger selves about how to persevere.
Bloomingdale’s, which is a longtime philanthropic partner of the Child Mind Institute and its efforts to raise awareness and eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health and learning disorders, will donate 10 percent of the value of e-gift cards purchased during May.
Standing in front of a garment rack and filmed in stark cinema vérité style, Hilfiger speaks matter-of-factly. “I’m here to talk about my obstacles as a student,” he says in the video. “As a child, I was dyslexic. I didn’t realize until later on in life. I faced many challenges along the way. What I’d like to say, is if you’re facing challenges, the best thing you can possibly do is reach out to an adult, because adults can help you somehow. I didn’t realize it at the time. I was embarrassed to talk to my teachers and my family about it. If something is bothering you, if you think you have a challenge, reach out to an adult and allow them to help you.”
Emma Stone, Lena Dunham, Michael Phelps, Jesse Eisenberg, Jay Leno, Patrick Kennedy, Stephen Fry, Trudie Styler, Naomi Judd and Henry Winkler, among others, are participating in the campaign. Every day in May, another video will be released with a childhood photo of the celebrity and seen on the Child Mind Institute’s social media channels and web site, speakupforkids.org.
Of the 74.5 million children in the U.S., an estimated 17.1 million have or have had a mental health disorder. That’s more than the number of children with cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined, the Child Mind Institute said. Despite the enormity of the problem, lack of awareness and entrenched stigma prevent the majority of these young people, who are at risk, from getting help.
Bloomingdale’s will support the Child Mind Institute’s efforts to increase its visibility through an e-mail campaign linking viewers back to speakupforkids.org, information on bloomingdales.com and a full-page ad in The New York Times promoting the campaign and running on Mental Health Awareness Day, May 4.
The Child Mind Institute is an independent, national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders.