As a driver of culture, Hip-Hop has the power to shift the conversation and bring attention to important causes.
Ahead of the curve, Rock The Bells, founded by LL COOL J, has teamed up with Salesforce.org to champion voices within the Hip-Hop space and disrupt stigmas surrounding mental health.
Mental Health Campaign
According to a press release shared with AfroTech, the campaign is designed to encourage action and advance the progress of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #3: Good Health and Wellbeing.
In addition, the wellness campaign will amplify the voices of nonprofit leaders, luminaries, and some of Hip-Hop’s most prominent names and storytellers backed by the power of technology.
The program was announced during the panel discussion, “The Mental Health Crisis is an Everyone Crisis: The Role of Brand + Culture,” moderated by Madison Slinker, Head of Brand Marketing at Salesforce.org at the Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity 2022. Featured panelists were James Cuthbert, President of Rock The Bells, and Grammy-award-winning artist Michelle Williams.
“In 1973, when Hip-Hop culture was born, you think about the level of oppression and all the things that were going on. Hip-Hop was born out of the need for Black folks to have a voice, whether it was Grandmaster Flash, Queen Latifah, and Self Destruction,” Cuthbert told AfroTech exclusively. “Now, fast forward to today, with the amount of people talking honestly about suicide and how they’re feeling, mental health topics have spiked within Hip-Hop music overall. It is a no-brainer for Rock The Bells to join Salesforce, which has amazing partners and different resources for people, and Michelle Williams, who has dedicated a lot of their life toward helping people find their way around mental health.”
“Whether it’s a song lyric, a photograph or the creativity expressed in a music video, Hip-Hop is the dominant catalyst for cultural waves and social change,” said Cristina Jones, Chief Engagement Officer of Salesforce.org, according to a press release. “Collaborating with Rock The Bells to connect the power of Hip-Hop with the power of Salesforce.org’s mission to drive positive social impact through technology will hopefully spark and scale conversations around the importance of our collective mental wellness. This partnership will shine a light on the communities, artists, and individuals who are at the forefront of creating space, conversations, and resources around mental wellness and continue to prove that unprecedented collaboration is required to help solve unprecedented challenges.”
Michelle Williams On Mental Health
As for Williams, jumping on board required no hesitation. The singer and songwriter has understood the importance of mental health while facing her battles, starting in seventh grade. Williams shared with AfroTech that therapy was helpful to overcome traumas and through her journey of healing, she has inspired those around her to start their own.
“I keep my long-standing therapist appointment. I tell people therapy isn’t to just process pain. I talk about dating with my therapist and I talk about certain transitions. Trauma is something uprooting you, or it’s an experience that you don’t know how to cope with. So, I keep my therapy going. I’ve got close friends that say ‘Girl, you’ve inspired me to go process things.’ So, I know I’m in my calling. I love when I’m done speaking and knowing somebody has hope or a smile on their face or they don’t feel like something is wrong with them.”
By 2013, Williams had become an advocate for mental health, sharing her story openly with a larger audience.
Over time, she’s realized conversations surrounding mental health have become more normalized.
“The discussion of mental health in 2013 is different from what it is in 2022,” she said. “So, I am proud and excited that it’s being talked about, it is being shared more, and people are doing it through their platforms or music. I’m finding people are being more transparent and more vulnerable. So we are chipping away at the stigma daily before it is erased.”
Williams’ wishes will be amplified throughout the partnership as Salesforce.org will collaborate with its partners and customer network of global nonprofits to make mental health and wellness resources more accessible to the public.
In addition, Salesforce.org’s mental health experts will have a role throughout each program launched to provide educational resources.
In conjunction with Rock The Bells, the aim is to increase mental health awareness through digital content on respective platforms and more panels will be held at events including Cannes Lions, Rock The Bells Festival in Queens, NY, and the Salesforce Tower in NY, among others.