Fashion brands that are taking the stigma out of mental illness

It's okay to not be okay.
January 18, 2021 11:35 a.m. EST
Bando, It's All Sad, Hayley Elsaesser, Self care is for everybody, My Black Clothing Bando, It's All Sad, Hayley Elsaesser, Self care is for everybody, My Black Clothing

1 in 5 Canadians experience mental health issues in their lifetime. Though the number is staggering, illnesses like depression and anxiety are still often glossed over and treated with deep shame, only to be discussed behind closed doors. These fashion labels are aiming to change that. Brands like like Hayley ElsaesserIt's All Sad, Self-Care is for Everyone, My Black Clothing, D.R.E.A.M, and Bando are getting the conversation going, increasing awareness around mental health and encouraging others to seek help without shame or judgment. They remind you to love yourself unconditionally and that mental health is health, so there's no shame in being diagnosed, getting help and telling others that it's okay to do the same. 

It's All Sad 

It’s All Sad™ is a clothing line created by Stephen Shaw. He seeks to normalize mental health issues by sharing his own journey with depression as a millennial and entrepreneur in the digital era through his clothing, writing and art. Some of Shaw's designs include "Why Be So Sad? Smile We're Good!" and "The Trouble With Freedom Is The Belief That We Are Ever Free."

Shaw told etalk's Sonia Beeksma that his clothing line came about because he wanted to “put this physical thing in the world that people couldn’t ignore.” Shaw noted that most of the “mental health stuff is buried in the mind,” and if people don’t experience it themselves, it’s tough for people to relate to someone who sees the world in such a different way. The 35-year-old designer's goal is to help people feel confident with how they feel.

Hayley Elsaesser

Toronto fashion designer Hayley Elsaesser draws inspiration from pop culture and uses elements from music, film, literature and more to design all of her prints from scratch. Elsaesser uses clothing as a vessel to open a meaningful dialogue around topics like mental health and body image.

One of her collections includes mental health-themed clothing, displaying words like anxiety, depression, dopamine and serotonin. Each word is accompanied by an illustration like a depression strawberry and anxiety aubretias. Elsaesser’s clothing helps to destigmatize conversations around mental health and empowers those struggling by wearing a colourful and direct design.


Dream Clothing is a unisex streetwear fashion brand that raises mental health awareness and funding for their mental health non-profit partners. Every purchase made helps end the stigma of mental illness and keeps the “dream” alive. The company raised over $18,000 in 2018 and $38,500 in 2019, with a goal of raising over $50,000 in 2020.

Dream Clothing’s mental health partners include NAMI, focused on general mental health awareness; ADAA, focused on anxiety awareness; BBR Foundation, focused on bipolar disorder awareness; and Rise Above the Disorder, dedicated to providing a universal mental health care system to people around the world.

My Black Clothing

My Black Clothing is a Black-owned clothing brand that supports and gives back to communities. The brand is dedicated to using its platform to give back to those who need it the most. They donate a portion of their proceeds to organizations that fight for the causes they stand for, including social injustice and inequality against people of colour. 

The clothing features graphics that include "Black and Mentally Healthy," "Black Mental Health Matters," "Melanin Is My Super Power What's Yours?" and more.

Bando cares a lot about how their customers get to and maintain a state of good mental health through their products and marketing. The company champions themes like self-care, self-expression and resilience. Their Jen Gotch x Iconery collection aims to destigmatize mental illness and create open conversations. The collection consists of nameplate necklaces featuring the words Anxiety, Depression and Bipolar.

The entire collection’s proceeds are donated to Bring Change to Mind, a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging dialogue about mental health and to raising awareness, understanding, and empathy. Jen,’s founder and chief creative officer, hopes the collection builds awareness and encourages people to connect with one another.

Self Care is for Everyone

Self Care is for Everyone first started as an online community of mental health advocates, therapists and healers on Instagram in 2018. The goal of Self Care is for Everyone is to empower and support their community to share their mental health practices and struggles while being met with love and kindness and helping others realize they are not alone in their fight.

Every design offered on the garments features artwork submitted to the company by independent artists all over the world. The brand wants artists to have a supportive community of people who wear their artwork and continue to spread their message. A percentage goes to the artist who designed the piece with each purchase placed. Part of their mission includes supporting the community directly and the people and organizations that work within it. Self Care is for Everyone has been able to support the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, NAMI, AFSP, Crisis Text Line, The Trevor Project, NEDA and The Audre Lorde Project, donating over $55,000 to the organizations.

When it comes to mental health, every action counts! Join the conversation on Bell Let’s Talk Day, January 26, and help create positive change for those living with mental health issues. For every text message, mobile or long-distance call made by Bell, Bell Aliant and Bell MTS customers, Bell will donate five cents to Canadian mental health initiatives. The same goes for every tweet or TikTok video with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, watching the Bell Let’s Talk Day video on TwitterInstagramFacebookYouTube, Pinterest , TikTok or Snapchat, or using the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. But that’s just the first step: Visit for more ways you can effect change and build awareness around mental health.

BEFORE YOU GO: Long-term care home worker shares how she experience panic attacks during the pandemic


[video_embed id='2118378']BEFORE YOU GO: Long-term care home worker shares how she experience panic attacks during the pandemic[/video_embed]

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