Kind’s New ‘Heroes’ Bar Aims to Destigmatize Mental Illness in Healthcare Workers

100% of net sales will be donated to the NAMI

kind heroes bar
Kind is partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to launch petitions asking state medical boards to reassess questioning around mental health. Kind Snacks

Early in the coronavirus pandemic, it seemed every brand on the planet had incorporated an ode to healthcare heroes into their messaging. While those campaigns ranged from profound and important to tokenizing and repetitive, the majority of those efforts have tapered off by now.

Roughly seven months into the pandemic, many consumers have expressed exhaustion at the prevalence of Covid-19-specific messaging, pining instead for more nostalgic distractions.

But for those who work in hospitals and clinics on the front lines of our collective fight against the virus, there’s no escaping the reality of a disease that’s already cost more than 210,000 American lives and recently extended its reach into the White House itself. The toll that Covid-19 taking on our nurses, physicians and support staff is hard to understate.

In an attempt to return the conversation to those workers for a moment and provide consumers with a simple, useful way to help doctors and nurses, Kind Snacks is launching a new product this week ahead of World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10 to honor and support healthcare professionals. The limited edition snack bar, called “Heroes,” is more than an empty nod to doctors and nurses, though—it aims to shed light on the ways that outdated state licensing processes can discourage healthcare workers from seeking the help they need.

The new Kind Heroes bar is only one piece of the brand’s campaign to change the conversation around mental health for healthcare workers.

After reading a story about a New York City emergency room doctor who died by suicide in April, Kind founder and executive chairman Daniel Lubetzky learned for the first time about the ways that licensing boards in many U.S. states consider seeking mental healthcare to be a red flag for professionals. That reality has discouraged healthcare workers from acknowledging or treating their own mental illness, or keeping it a secret if they do. The untimely death of Dr. Lorna Breen sparked a new conversation about the culture of the healthcare industry and the barriers workers face in accessing critical mental health resources.

“I was devastated to learn that so many in the healthcare community are enduring mental health challenges and aren’t receiving the care that they need,” said Lubetzky. “Given that conditions such as depression and anxiety are likely to increase six months post-trauma, we knew that we needed to continue to support those that risk their lives to keep us safe in a concrete way.”

Through this campaign, what Lubetzky hopes to contribute to “mass awareness” of the mental health issues facing healthcare workers, he said. In addition to the new product, Kind is partnering with NAMI to circulate petitions in five states that currently ask intrusive questions regarding mental health as a part of the medical licensing process. The petitions in Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Oklahoma and Wyoming launch today and will be live on through the end of the year.

“Companies have an obligation to create real change—we can’t wait for the government to solve major issues facing our society,” said Lubetzky. “It’s important that we continue to embrace our responsibility to address societal challenges, break down barriers and create a kinder, better world for all.”

Kind is promoting the campaign on social platforms, and will feature the petitions on its website and in statewide news blasts. The brand is also taking the opportunity to expand mental health services for its own employees. Kind’s wellness reimbursement program will now extend to mental health services like Headspace. It’s also launching a new internal wellness team and is introducing one-to-one mindfulness sessions during October.

@klundster Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.