We took a Stand Against Stigma. We brought the billboard down.

Kenneth Cole PR team cites Mental Health Justice Complaint for removal of inaccurate and stigmatizing billboard. 

Last week, a billboard posted by fashion designer Kenneth Cole linking gun violence and mental illness came to our attention. Mental Health Justice, along with other mental health advocates, was outraged by the insinuation that 40 million Americans with mental illness were somehow a threat to society by linking them with gun violence. 

We launched a campaign asking clothing designer Kenneth Cole to remove a billboard. We were clear that the billboard was misleading and played into stereotypes about mental illness that exacerbated stigma and judgment. Our efforts received national coverage in the mental health community. 

This weekend, Kenneth Cole's public relations team announced that the billboard would be removed.

“In hindsight, we were overly ambitious with our attempt to address two complex issues in a medium designed for brevity, and regret any confusion it has caused. The billboard on the West Side Highway will be replaced…”
— Kenneth Cole statement on billboard

The statement directly responded to a criticism that Mental Health Justice had articulated about the billboard:

(Mental Health Justice) also criticized the nature of the message — a billboard is meant to get people’s attention, fast. No matter Cole’s intent, simplifying an issue and targeting a population of people to get an emotional response is socially irresponsible.

— Mental Health Justice statement to themighty.com

Additionally, in an article in behavior.net it points out how mental health advocates were directing concerned individuals to the mental health justice BLOG post that gave instructions about how to take part in a grassroots campaign to get the billboard removed. 

The simple fact is OUR CAMPAIGN WORKED! Together, the Mental Health Justice community took a stand against stigma and judgment and we forced a very powerful person to admit he was wrong. 

I have been involved in public policy and politics for my entire professional career. It is so rare that the rich and powerful give in to the pressure of the people and admit their mistake. This is a great moment for the mental health community.  Let's give ourselves a giant hand.  

Mental Health Justice. No stigma, no Judgment. Everyone is welcome.

Thanks to everyone and congratulations.