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2022 Dancers in the College Edition at the University of South Florida<br />

T H E P R O B L E M<br />

According to SAMHSA, every year, over 46 million<br />

people experience a mental illness, and 46.3 million<br />

people face substance use conditions.<br />

Nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness did not receive<br />

treatment in the previous year.<br />

Suicide takes the lives of over 47,511 Americans every<br />

year.<br />

10.3% of Americans have thought about suicide.<br />

90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying<br />

mental illness at the time of their death.<br />

Serious mental illness costs in the U.S. amount to $193.2<br />

billion in lost earnings per year.<br />

Each year, an<br />

estimated<br />

46 Million<br />

adults<br />

experience<br />

mental illness<br />

The world is facing an unprecedented mental health crisis, exacerbated by factors such as<br />

societal pressures, economic uncertainty, and the lingering effects of a global pandemic.<br />

According to the World Health Organization, mental health conditions affect one in four people<br />

worldwide, making it a critical public health concern. To address these conditions and the stigma<br />

associated with them, we offer our platform for virtual and live shows in which ordinary people<br />

share their extraordinary stories of recovery to offer hope and let others know they are not<br />

alone.<br />


2019 DeKalb IL Cast<br />

O U R S T O R Y<br />

This Is My <strong>Brave</strong> was co-founded by<br />

Anne-Marie Ames (1967-2017) and<br />

Jennifer Marshall in 2014. Jennifer’s<br />

experience as the writer of the blog<br />

entitled “Bipolar Mom Life” led to the<br />

creation of This Is My <strong>Brave</strong>. Out of fear<br />

of stigma, Jennifer blogged anonymously<br />

until she was inspired by others to reveal<br />

her true identity. Jennifer’s decision to<br />

put her name and her face on her blog<br />

post was celebrated and she received<br />

many heartwarming messages of<br />

appreciation for her transparency.<br />

Our Mission<br />

This Is My <strong>Brave</strong>’s mission is to end the<br />

stigma associated with mental health and<br />

substance use conditions using the<br />

powerful art of storytelling. We achieve this<br />

by producing live and virtual events in<br />

which ordinary people share their<br />

extraordinary stories of recovery in order to<br />

offer hope and let others know they are not<br />

alone.<br />

This experience sparked the idea for This Is My <strong>Brave</strong>: Live theatrical events where individuals are<br />

empowered to share their personal stories of hope and recovery using the performing arts to break<br />

down stigma. The very first <strong>Brave</strong> show took place in Arlington, Virginia. The success and impact of<br />

that event have been replicated in cities around the country ever since.<br />

As a result, This Is My <strong>Brave</strong> is now the leading national mental health storytelling nonprofit.<br />


This Is My <strong>Brave</strong> creates opportunities<br />

for individuals to share their stories<br />

on and off the stage.<br />

On the Stage | In the Spotlight<br />

This Is My <strong>Brave</strong> - The Show - Our flagship program of professionally<br />

produced mental health storytelling events featuring individuals<br />

from the community; 12 shows per year in cities across the US.<br />

Specialized This Is My <strong>Brave</strong> Virtual Shows<br />

TIMB Stories from the Black Community<br />

TIMB Stories from the APIDA Community<br />

TIMB Stories from the College Athlete Community<br />

TIMB Stories from the Veteran Community<br />

This Is My <strong>Brave</strong> - College Edition - College storytelling program<br />

launched in 2019 in Boston through grants from Alkermes and<br />

Ruderman Family Foundation; Year 2 of our College Edition featured<br />

6 student storytellers in the Boston area, and in 2021, our <strong>Brave</strong><br />

Ambassador program was created and launched as a springboard to<br />

bring more awareness of This Is My <strong>Brave</strong> to campuses across the<br />

country through passionate student advocates.<br />

This Is My <strong>Brave</strong> - High School Edition - Created in 2019, our high<br />

school program features high school and college students sharing<br />

their stories to break down stigma and educate their peers and the<br />

adults in their lives.<br />

OUR TURN TO TALK - A podcast for teens, the first season of which<br />

was sponsored by <strong>Brave</strong> and features our national teen storytellers.<br />

Available where you get your podcasts or at:<br />

ht tps : //w w w.our t ur ntot alk .c om /<br />

OUR TURN TO TALK - A documentary film focused on teenagers who<br />

say they’re the generation to put an end to mental health stigma.<br />

To do it, they’re telling their own stories – raw and unfiltered.<br />

From skyrocketing rates of anxiety and depression to the impacts<br />

of racial and intergenerational trauma, these teens share their<br />

struggles and triumphs and carry a powerful message: Storytelling<br />

saves lives. [Released in Oct 2022; a production of Principle Pictures<br />

for WETA in partnership with WellBeings.org]<br />

<strong>Brave</strong>TV - A livestreamed series now two seasons strong - featuring<br />

alumni storytellers and mental health experts covering mental<br />

health topics, including COVID-19, current affairs and more.<br />

<strong>Brave</strong> Beyond the Stage - Our virtual initiative to check in with our<br />

<strong>Brave</strong> Alumni and see where they are today. We’re having candid<br />

conversations to hear about their experience on the <strong>Brave</strong> stage<br />

and beyond.<br />

Off the Stage | One-on-One<br />

<strong>Brave</strong> Ambassadors - Our new program for individuals to become<br />

ground level, off the stage storytellers for This Is My <strong>Brave</strong>. We know<br />

people have the power to influence their peers and open up the<br />

conversation around mental health to change minds and lives at the<br />

grassroots level.<br />

<strong>Brave</strong> the Storm 5K - A virtual 5k in which participants are invited to<br />

run, walk, or hike in the location of their choice and be a part of the<br />

inspiration and movement to end the stigma around mental illness.<br />

We invite participants to participate for reasons that are important<br />

to them — for health, for well-being, for a loved one. Whatever their<br />

motivation may be, all are encouraged to join us and help spread a<br />

message of hope.<br />

Jay Walkers - A challenge for the month of September (which is<br />

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month) designed to break the stigma<br />

surrounding mental health and suicide. Participants are asked to<br />

form a team to complete 800,000 steps in 30 days to honor every<br />

life lost worldwide each year to suicide. Start conversations about<br />

suicide with friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors to break<br />

down the barriers that stand in the way of people getting help. Jay<br />

Walkers are encouraged to share their own stories and let others<br />

know it’s safe to share theirs.<br />


This Is My <strong>Brave</strong>’s Impact<br />

Since 2014, This Is My <strong>Brave</strong> has...<br />

Produced<br />

110<br />

shows<br />

with over<br />

1000 story<br />

tellers<br />

18,500+<br />

audience<br />

members<br />

in 53 cities<br />

in the U.S.<br />

& Australia<br />

& 300k<br />

YouTube<br />

video views<br />

Thus far, over 1000 stories have been shared through our live shows and more via our<br />

digital platforms. Live shows are professionally filmed and published to our YouTube<br />

channel: youtube.com/thisismybrave<br />

7<br />

2018 Houston TX Cast

B O A R D O F D I R E C T O R S<br />

Board Chair: Jessica Kennedy is the Chief of Staff and Vice President of Finance at<br />

Mental Health America, where she has worked for over a decade. An expert in<br />

nonprofit management, she began her career in operations before expanding her focus<br />

to screening, workplace mental health, public education, digital marketing, mental<br />

health policy, and program management. Jessica developed and launched Mental Health<br />

America’s online screening program in 2014; the program has since collected nearly five<br />

million mental health screens and is recognized as the largest database of mental health<br />

screens in the world.<br />

Board Member: Adam Bromberg is a Director of Public Affairs at the Charles Schwab<br />

Corporation. Prior to that role he was a senior vice president at a public affairs firm in<br />

Alexandria, VA. For over 20 years at the firm, he supervised the development and<br />

implementation of communications strategy for a variety of Fortune 500 corporations,<br />

associations and public policy groups.<br />

Board Secretary: Kyaien Conner, Ph.D., LSW, MPH Professor and Donald M.<br />

Henderson Endowed Chair, Director of the Center on Race and Social Problems<br />

(CRSP) and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Dr. Conner received<br />

her BS in Psychology, MSW, MPH with a specialization in Minority Health and<br />

Health Disparities, and a PhD in Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr.<br />

Conner has received several awards for her work including the Distinguished Alumni<br />

Award (University of Pittsburgh, 2023), Chancellors Award for Excellence in Civic<br />

and Community Engagement, (University of South Florida, 2022), and Black Faculty<br />

Member of the year (University of South Florida, 2021).<br />

Co-Founder: Jennifer Marshall was diagnosed with Type 1 Bipolar Disorder in 2006 at<br />

the age of 26. She’s had four hospitalizations within five years – two in 2005 before<br />

any diagnosis was reached, and two more because she was trying to protect her<br />

newborn son (postpartum psychosis) in 2008 and her unborn daughter in 2010 – and<br />

all were because she was unmedicated at the time. Writing her way through life with a<br />

mental illness became her way of healing, and her award-winning blog BipolarMomLife<br />

became an inspiration to many. Jenn created This Is My <strong>Brave</strong> because she learned<br />

firsthand how powerful it was to live openly and not hide her diagnosis. She wanted to<br />

give brave individuals from the community a platform to creatively share their stories<br />

of living with mental illness to educate and inspire others. She lives outside<br />

Washington, DC with her husband and two children.

“It’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience.<br />

I honestly didn’t realize how much support I had<br />

in my friends/family until the night of the show<br />

when I saw everyone’s faces in the audience. It<br />

has also given me much more confidence to<br />

speak my truth and my story, and continue to do<br />

so in the future. It has been so empowering to be<br />

more vocal about my struggles, and to know that<br />

I’m empowering others, too.”<br />

Gianna Santoro, 2018 Philadelphia Show<br />

“I think that, for me, performing on<br />

stage gave me a sense of relief.<br />

Keeping stuff like this bottled in you<br />

for quite some time, it's quite painful.”<br />

Cyril Koomsom, 2023 Penn State<br />

Abington Show<br />

Brandy Mimms, 2023 Deafinitely Inc <strong>Brave</strong> Show<br />

9<br />

“Performing in This Is My <strong>Brave</strong> was transformative. I love my fellow cast members. I got to be brave and<br />

share my personal experience with mental illness on stage in front of 300 people. Strangers approached<br />

me after the show to tell me that my story gave them hope. Everything about this experience has been<br />

incredible.” -Sarah Wissig, 2019 Orlando Show


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