On Monday, January 23, Backline announced Break The Barriers; a movement that aims to end the stigma around mental health by asking participants to commit to taking care of their own mental health, and take action to address and dismantle the systemic and historical barriers that BIPOC communities face when seeking mental health care.
Partnering with the Black Mental Health Alliance, Silence The Shame, Latinx Therapy, Black Music Action Coalition, SONA (Songwriters of North America), FEMME HOUSE, Women In Music, NIVA, The SIMS Foundation and more, Break The Barriers’ first call to action centers around the Break The Barriers Pledge, which states, “I commit to prioritizing my own mental health and that of my community, and to help end stigma through education, action, and resources as part of the Break the Barriers Coalition.”
Backline also revealed the Break The Barriers Portal, where Artists, Organizations, and Fans can access mental health resources, critical messaging, digital toolkits and more. The toolkits and resources are aimed at making it easier to implement and uphold mental health in workplaces, concerts, and communities.
Break The Barriers also launched #MentalHealthMondays; a weekly Instagram Live series featuring vulnerable conversations around mental health with music industry and mental health professionals. Artist Jojo Simmons (Growing Up Hip Hop) is the serie’s first host, going live at 5:00PM PT / 8:00PM ET every week at @jojosimmons. The first installation of #MentalHealthMondays featured conversations with Terra Lopez (Backline), Shanti Das (Silence The Shame), and Andrea Brown (Black Mental Health Alliance).
JoJo Simmons, co-Founder 3isFor, Growing up Hip-Hop, says, “Ever since the pandemic mental health has become an issue and growing concern for many people, Backline's Break the Barriers campaign aims to help demystify and destigmatize this conversation across communities that need these resources the most. I want to lend my voice and platform to influence and encourage my community, followers and extended network to get involved. Take the pledge, ask someone how they are doing and know that together we have the power to change the narrative and change lives. 3isFor is proud to sponsor and champion this important cause.”
Break The Barriers is already making an impact on the industry; with Guin Records implementing this week a new “Mental Health Day Policy” for all employees. The policy offers employees to take a day off in order to take time to recover and recenter themselves to prevent burnout. Industry entities interested in deepening their efforts can also register to have a workshop with Coalition Partner Silence the Shame, or subsidize mental health care costs for employees via Music’s Mental Health Fund, a partnership between Backline + Sweet Relief Musicians’ Fund.
The momentum has already begun. Already, more than 25 companies have signed the pledge, including Wasserman, Vevo, Big Hassle, 23 PR, Terrorbird, Propeller, Dayglo Presents, The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), Tree Fort Music Fest, Duck Club Presents, 11Eleven Group, PassionHouse Coffee, Sound Mind Live, Post Oak LA, National Event Services, Lyte, 6Degrees and The Orchard.
Naledi Nyahuma Seck, Vice President of Diversity, Equity + Inclusion for The Orchard, says, "The Orchard is proud to partner with Backline and the Break The Barriers movement. We support mental health initiatives all year round by providing benefits to employees, supporting nonprofit organizations addressing critical needs in the community, and providing educational resources and tools to take action."
Terra Lopez (Backline / Break The Barriers) says, "Break The Barriers is a movement that aims to end the stigma around mental health by asking folks first and foremost to take care of their mental health. The more we talk about our mental health, the less taboo it will be. Break The Barriers also aims to address the systemic and historical barriers that have been set in place for BIPOC communities when seeking out mental health care. We believe that by acknowledging the logistical, structural, historical barriers that BIPOC communities have faced, we can bring not only solutions to changing the system but also much needed healing to these communities. We want to encourage folks to have these vulnerable conversations around mental health in the hopes that it will allow others to feel able to share their own stories. There is so much power in sharing your story and in bearing witness to others. We are so excited to launch the first call to action with the pledge and ask all to sign and share with their own communities to help us break the barriers and end the stigma around mental health!"
The Break The Barriers movement campaign video highlights vulnerable conversations within communities of color, asking artists and music industry professionals to share their stories around mental health. The conversations are raw and intimate, shedding light on the barriers they have personally faced when seeking out care, identifying coping mechanisms, and how therapy has transformed their lives.