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Mental health groups ask Kenneth Cole to remove billboard

Twenty-three mental health organizations delivered a letter to fashion designer Kenneth Cole this morning, Kenneth Coleprotesting the bizarre billboard Cole posted on a New York City highway in August that was supposed to support  mental healthcare reform and gun reform.

Two comments:

1. Thank God the country’s most prestigious mental health organizations have taken a strong, united stand in urging Cole to take down the billboard.

2. What the hell was Cole thinking?

When the words mental illness and guns are put together, stigma usually follows. Guess how many hits you get when you Google “mass shooting” and “history of mental illness?” 1.5 million.

Really? It’s hard to imagine that a bunch of highly paid ad executives actually sat in a room bouncing ideas off each other and someone came up with SOME CAN ACCESS CARE…ALL CAN ACCESS GUNS and someone higher up on the food chain approved it.

Personally, the American Psychiatric Association – which penned the letter – was extremely polite.

While many of the statements in your ad were correct, they linked violence and mental illness in a way that stigmatizes people with mental health issues…You are absolutely correct that many Americans with mental health issues don’t get the help they need. Only 38 percent of adults with mental illness receive treatment. The right answer is to get people treatment, not to marginalize them. Stigma about mental health is one of the biggest barriers preventing people from seeking care, and your billboard unfortunately adds to that stigma.Gay People - Copy

Cole ignited a Twitter fire storm when the billboard went up on August 27. There were threats of boycotts and pleas to take down the billboard. Cole, known for his edgy/trendy dysfunctionbillboards defended it on Twitter. “Intention was to highlight inadequate access to Mental HealthCare & over access to guns- for all.”

Okay, you made your point. Now take down the billboard.




Mental health groups ask Kenneth Cole to remove billboard

Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.

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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2015). Mental health groups ask Kenneth Cole to remove billboard. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Sep 2015
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