Even after 11 seasons, the stars of Supernatural and their zealous fan base continue to prove why they are one of the close-knit communities in fandom history. After meeting with fans across the country and hearing their firsthand accounts of how mental health issues have plagued their lives, the stars of Supernatural have decided to expand their mission of helping those afflicted with mental health issues. Misha Collins announced through his Random Acts website that he, Jensen Ackles, and Jared Padalecki will launch a community support system called the #SPNFamily Crisis Support Network to help fans cope with mental health issues such as depression, self-injury, and addiction,
Collins spoke with EW about the launching of #SPNFamily Crisis Support Network. “We have this interesting exposure to our fandom in the form of conventions, where we go and we meet fans face-to-face pretty much every other weekend,” Collins says. “And we have occasion to meet thousands and thousands of Supernatural fans and at every event, every one of us encounters as many as a dozen people who share really heart-rending stories about self-harm or addiction or depression or suicide attempts. We see a lot of people with tattoos of semicolons on themselves — the semicolon is where the author could’ve chosen to end a sentence but instead chose to carry it on so it’s a very potent symbol for somebody who’s struggled with near-death situations and forged on.”
Collins further explains how the partnership with other nonprofits will work. “The nonprofit Random Acts is housing this network in partnership with two other nonprofits, IMAlive and To Write Love of Her Arms, which are helping us. They have experience in this realm so they’re helping us build it in an efficacious way.”
In order to accomplish their mission, IMAlive will train interested, eligible, and qualified members of the fandom – at no cost, thanks to sponsorship from Random Acts – on how to respond to crisis calls and support their community. Those in need of help will be able to visit the crisis intervention page website and chat with a qualified, trained, caring person 24-hours a day. Random Acts’ partnership with IMAlive and TWLOHA includes identifying available resources, professional treatment options, and support groups in local communities across the U.S., and eventually across the globe.
Jensen and Misha’s “You Are Not Alone” Creation Stands T-shirt campaign is currently raising funds to develop this online community platform. The platform will provide training for fan volunteers who wish to be crisis responders in their spare time; immediate access to support lifelines for fans in crisis, and local community resources for those needing additional support or information.
Fans of Supernatural know that mental health is a topic that is prevalent at conventions and on fandom and social media sites. Jared Padalecki originally created an open dialogue about mental health, which allowed the Supernatural fan base to open up about their own struggles with depression, addiction, and self-injury. After years of listening to their fans struggles, Collins, Ackles, and Padalecki have created a program which can create a measurable difference in the lives of those struggling. “For whatever reason, it seems to be something that is prevalent, or, at least, bubbles to the surface in our fandom. It’s just something that seems to be affecting a lot of people,” Collins says, adding, “I think one of the big problems that people face when they’re struggling with these things is not knowing where to turn. But if you are part of a community and you know that that community is offering help in a certain way and it’s something that you know is there, I think it might be really helpful. Anyway, that’s what me and Jared and Jensen thought.”
It took months of preparation and support, but The SPNFamily Crisis Support Network has finally become a reality. “We have psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and so far, about 1,500 people have volunteered to help man the hotlines,” Collins says, noting that part of the network is fans being trained to help fans, but that’s only after each person who volunteers is thoroughly vetted and trained.
But for now, this is just the beginning. “I’m really excited to actually see this thing hit the ground,” Collins says.
If you want to be involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or join their mailing list for updates.
Supernatural airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.