When you think about Bloomingdale’s, most people think about shopping, but at the Child Mind Institute we have a slightly different perspective. That’s because Bloomingdale’s happens to be one of our founding partners, and if you think that sounds unique for a retail store, you’re absolutely right.
As anyone who has ever been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder knows, there is stigma attached to mental illness. It is something people often prefer to ignore or keep hidden, and it takes courage to acknowledge mental illness and speak up about it.
The same holds true for corporations, so when Bloomingdale’s came on as a partner five years go, we knew from the start it was going to be a very important and meaningful relationship. And it has been, so we were very pleased to give the Corporate Advocate Award to Tony Spring, the CEO of Bloomingdale’s, at our Change Maker Awards ceremony.
In the years we’ve been working together Bloomingdale’s has sold numerous limited-edition products that have raised funds to benefit patients and research at the Child Mind Institute. Through this partnership they’ve also been promoting awareness about mental health, in their catalogues and signage, which is perhaps even cooler. An estimated 17.1 million children have or have had a psychiatric illness, which is more than the number of children with cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. Yet families often report feeling alone in their struggle and sometimes even delay getting care because stigma has made them afraid or ashamed.
For those famililes we need reminders that mental illness is as universal as physical illness, and when Bloomingdale’s puts the cause front and center throughout the year in their stores, they are getting those families’ attention in a way we never could without their help.
At the Change Maker Awards Spring talked about the importance of tackling that adversity head-on, and not being ashamed. Citing the many brilliant people who were dismissed early on—including Beethoven, Charles Darwin, Walt Disney and Albert Einstein—he said, “While not every child will be famous or extraordinary, doesn’t every child deserve the opportunity to be happy, and achieve their very best?”
We certainly think so, and we’re glad Bloomingdale’s does, too. No other national company has made the kind of commitment to children’s mental health care that Bloomingdale’s has, but we hope more companies will follow in their footsteps.