Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Box of Stars

Name of Innovative Program: 
Raising mental health awareness through music to reduce stigma, promote recovery and save lives.
Sponsoring Organization
Box of Stars
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Ted and Jessica Richardson
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
Music and mental health have a complex and important friendship. The greatest power that music possesses is the ability to engage our emotions and to command our senses in a mystical and essential way. This is all for good, logical reason because great music itself is created by those people who can access their ability to give birth to such art, and in turn, give us a profound gift that whispers to our memories, speaks to our fears, and calls on our own hopes and dreams. Based on these principles and ideals, Box of Stars brings together recording artists who have a national or international network of fans to promote mental health awareness. We create albums in tribute to musicians whose lives and work have been affected by their own struggles with mental health, produce public service announcements for internet media outlets, television and radio, and are currently building an archive of first-person stories about mental health. Box of Stars is also working towards the creation of a youth outreach program that uses music and technology to teach kids and young adults the essentials about mental health and encourage compassion, empathy and understanding towards those dealing with mental health challenges.
Creativity and Innovation: 
By using music as a buffer and a starting point, it becomes easier to overcome the stigma of talking about mental health. We encourage celebrity musicians to speak out about the issue publicly to inspire others to shed their shame, speak openly, and seek the treatment that they might otherwise have been too uncomfortable to pursue. Box of Stars believes that, in order to have the greatest impact and start a new conversation about mental health, it is vital we educate our children so they understand it is okay to talk about their feelings and so they can learn when and how to ask for help for themselves and for others. In order to achieve this goal we are developing a software application that marries a challenge-based music game with mood and mental health awareness aspects, encouraging youth to get involved in the conversation and stay tuned in and aware.
It is the aim of Box of Stars to be instrumental in coordinating resources between the mental health and arts communities. Utilizing this collaboration, we will create a forum in which celebrated musicians can speak out about their personal experiences regarding mental health to reduce stigma and encourage others to engage in this new conversation. The software application we are creating for mental health education and engagement through music will be available worldwide. While it will be introduced during school programs, the application will be available to anyone to download and use on their smartphone or tablet. We would encourage any organizations, schools or behavioral health professionals to use the application in their programs or recommend it to others.   
Box of Stars co-founder Ted Richardson has chosen to use his connections within the music industry to start a new conversation about mental health. Our Board of Directors and Advisory Board have been carefully selected to include prominent and well-respected figures from the behavioral health, business, non-profit, and entertainment fields. We are partnering with well-established behavioral health organizations in the development and implementation of our youth outreach program and cross-platform application. We generate a portion of the funds needed to run our programs through the sale of t-shirts, albums and other goods that bear our logo and message. Through pre-sales and crowd-funding we were able to raise the funds necessary to complete our first tribute album, and we expect to use the same method to support future projects.   Leadership, adaptability, and program capacityLeadership, adaptability, and program capacityLeadership, adaptability, and program capacityLeadership, adaptability, and program capacity
The Box of Stars concept is simple, and the execution is fairly straightforward. This same idea could easily be translated to other areas of the arts. Many of us have been moved and inspired by writers, painters, choreographers, and playwrights who have struggled with mental illness. Highlighting their work and re-introducing it to the public in a fresh way would be an innovative way to raise awareness for this cause.  The success of Box of Stars would serve as a jumping off point for other organizations to create similar projects. 
Thanks to donations from a thousand people from all across the globe, we have completed our tribute album of music by Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse featuring internationally acclaimed artists like The Flaming Lips, Portugal. The Man, Cowboy Junkies, and Phantogram. Several artists have agreed to work with us in creating public service announcements or have offered to tell their own stories to reduce stigma and encourage others to speak out on the subject. Before the album had seen its official release we received emails from many people worldwide who were moved and inspired by the project, all with a story to tell. Through international promotion of our albums we will get people talking about mental health and help to create a world in which those who once found shame in their struggle can find strength and encouragement to get the help they need.