Mental Illness is not a Joke

On Friday morning, August 14th, we made a horrible mistake by publishing an image to our Instagram account that was both highly offensive and downright disgusting. This post should never have happened, it was absolutely inexcusable to allow this content to appear on our account and, as the CEO and founder of BioRepublic SkinCare, I accept full responsibility for this terrible lapse in judgment and oversight.  

Moreover, I am frankly embarrassed by the rash, insensitive, and foolish manner in which I personally handled our response. Instead of engaging the mental health community and using our mistake as an opportunity to raise awareness around an important cause, I acted defensively and selfishly by trying to shut down the justified criticism and outrage we provoked. Starting now, we have reopened access to all of our social media accounts and we would like to invite anyone in the mental health community to share their stories on our page.

These are not the kind of values I want my brand and company to represent. We deeply believe in promoting dignity and respect towards every human, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, mental health, or any other human trait. Diversity makes the world a better place and I want to offer my heart-felt, sincerest apology to those that we hurt with our horrific post and terrible handling of this incident.

Mental health issues affect 1 in 5 US adults and there are nearly 13.6 million adults in America today who live with a serious mental illness. 60% of adults and 50% of children living with mental illness did not receive mental health treatment in the last year. To make matters worse, 26% of homeless adults living in US shelters deal with mental illness and 24% of state prisoners have a recent history of a mental health condition.

This is a terrible and shameful situation: whether due to a lack of access to health care or as a result of the stigma associated with mental illness, many of those most in need are unable to receive the treatment they need and deserve.

This has to change. 

Some in the community suggested that we make a donation of $5,000 to an NGO working to raise awareness of mental health issues and improve access to treatment for those affected. While this would be a noble act, as a new startup that has yet to become profitable, we simply can not afford to do this.

What we can afford to do, however, is the following:

During the week of August 16th – August 23rd we pledge to donate all after cost proceeds from online sales to NAMI, an NGO that supports the mental health community. If any of you would rather donate directly to NAMI, rather than routing funds through us, we completely understand. Here’s a link to their donation page.  I've taken the stigmaFree pledge and Im going to ask all of my employees to do the same.

Further, I will be reaching out to the head of our local NAMI chapter in Atlanta to find out how I can volunteer in their  effort to raise awareness of this important cause.

While we can’t go back in time to undo the damage we caused, I want to once more offer our deepest apologies and ask for your forgiveness as we learn from our mistakes and make a sincere, humble effort to support your community and your cause going forward.

Sincerely,

Paolo Mentonelli

CEO & Founder

BioRepublic SkinCare