Stories of Hope and Grace: Meet Marissa Betley of Project 1 in 4

June 2, 2017

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, we here at hope & grace wanted to do something extra special. As you may know, 1% of every one of our products sold goes directly to the hope & grace foundation; you don’t need to purchase a product specifically to support mental health-related causes. But this year, we decided to create a limited-edition product with a unique design in partnership with an artist who works tirelessly for mental health and wellness. We’re proud to introduce that artist, Marissa Betley of Project 1 in 4.

We wanted to give Marissa some time to talk a little about this special group of illustrations that started as a grad school project and has evolved into a movement and organization, one special enough to change lives around the world:

 

“Project 1 in 4 is something I started two years ago as a ‘100-day project’ while earning my Masters in Branding at the School of Visual Arts. In seeing loved ones struggle with various mental health issues—namely bipolar and depression—I was really bothered by the stigma that surrounds mental health, and I wanted to do something to change that.

I observed that organizations often discuss mental illness through the lens of statistics so I decided to take a different approach—to bring to light the human side of mental illness by illuminating real stories from real people personally impacted by mental illness. From there, the heart of the project was born—to go beyond cold statistics to reveal the human side of mental illness. With that, I decided I would start by naming the project ‘Project 1 in 4’ (inspired by the 2015 statistic that 1 in 4 American adults experience mental illness in a given year) and I would go on to interview the 1 in 4 to uncover their stories and reimagine them through simple, yet empathetic illustrations to be posted daily on Instagram.

About 25 days into the project, I was taken by complete surprise in receiving two major press inquiries—one from Maria Popova, founder of Brain Pickings (a personal favorite), one from Lindsay Holmes of The Huffington Post—and suddenly a spark ignited. I soon started receiving emails from people all over the world: some shared personal stories, some thanked me for my work, and some asked how the could help promote the project. It was thrilling, overwhelming and humbling to say the least, and I am incredibly grateful that Project 1 in 4 has been seen and valued by so many people.

Fast-forward to today, and I could not be more excited about the future of Project 1 in 4. Ultimately my dream is to transform it into a global non-profit erasing mental health stigma and promoting hope and wellness. The opportunity to partner with philosophy this May for Mental Health Month 2017 to advance their hope & grace initiative has been an absolute honor and dream come true. I hope through our efforts we have not only chipped away at the pervasive stigma that surrounds mental health but inspired those who may be struggling in silence to reach out for help. Today, NAMI now reports that nearly 1 in 5 adults in the US experience mental illness in a given year, which equates to approximately 43.8 million people. To those who may be reading and feeling alone in their mental health struggles, we assure you that you are not alone. Please know help is out there, hope and healing are real, and we at Project 1 in 4 are here for you.”