The power of color has long been recognized in marketing. Companies have even trademarked colors and color combinations in the market.
Home Depot is orange. Lowe's is blue. The same thinking has also been
applied to advocacy causes. Yellow ribbons signify veterans. Pink ribbons breast cancer.
What’s the color for mental health?
That is the question Shannon Jacuzzi asked not long after her sister committed suicide 5 years ago. It became clear to her that the mental health advocacy community lacked a color to make its cause immediately recognizable. “There is silver for disorders of the brain. But mental health to me is inclusive of all humans because we all have a brain; we all need to take care of it.”
She thought a bright and cheerful color would be most appropriate. So,
kicking off a movement of lime green awareness ribbons, bags, rubber bracelets, and other reminders that mental health is important and needs to be talked about.
“Some of us struggle harder to maintain good mental health – the other side of the coin being mental illness. But they are both important. I believe if we discuss mental health in both contexts, we can reduce
stigma to mental illness and treatment avoidance. We should incorporate mental health screening from childhood/adolescence and preventive care.
“If we all talk about it from earliest age, it becomes ‘normal’ instead of shameful. Color has done so much to bring talk and attention to important causes. Limelighting mental health out of the darkness is part of the reason lime is an effective color for mental health.”
Indeed, the limelighting seems to be working. Google shows more than 2 million hits on entering “limelight mental health.” On Facebook, pages for Limelight Mental Health and GO LIME Awareness for Mental Health has more than 1,500 likes.
As we head into May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, think lime. And grab a ribbon at http://bit.ly/lime4mentalhealth to place on your website or Facebook page to spread the power of lime.
—Steven Roy Daviss, M.D., DFAPA
DR. DAVISS is chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Maryland’s Baltimore Washington Medical Center, chair of the APA Committee on Electronic Health Records, co-chair of the CCHIT Behavioral Health Work Group, and co-author of Shrink Rap: Three Psychiatrists Explain Their Work, published by Johns Hopkins University Press. He is found on Twitter @HITshrink, at drdavissATgmail.com, and on the Shrink Rap blog.