Freeport retailer L.L. Bean posted a message to its Instagram page this month saying it has “Gone Fishin'” for the month of May, which has long been designated Mental Health Awareness Month. Screen-captured image

L.L. Bean has taken its social media messaging offline for a month in recognition of May as Mental Health Awareness Month.

The Freeport-based outdoor retailer said it has put a halt to posting on social media channels and is wiping clean its Instagram feed while instead encouraging people to get outside and prioritize self-care.

Bean also announced a $500,000 grant and two-year partnership with Mental Health America to support community-based outdoor programs and campaigns to publicize the wellness benefits of time spent outdoors.

In a statement announcing the decision to withdraw from most social media for May, Bean said time spent in nature “can lower stress hormone levels, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety and improve mood” – a message Bean said the company was leaving behind on social media sites as it temporarily exited.

The company’s approach is encouraged by organizations such as the Maine branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which said May should be used as a month to reconnect with family members and friends who may have drifted apart during the long months of the coronavirus pandemic.

“That’s what we promote, having the hard conversations and being vulnerable so others can share,” said River Martin, NAMI Maine’s community support manager.


He said one side benefit of the pandemic is that it has highlighted the importance of mental health and made many people more sensitive to the need for people to maintain personal connections despite the hurdles the virus has put in the way of those relationships.

“The pandemic has really helped normalize mental health, and we are seeing more folks reach out than have ever reached out before,” Martin said. “During the whole pandemic, we’ve seen organizations reach out to employees and community service organizations reaching out about how to best support the community.”

He said that May has been recognized a Mental Health Awareness Month for decades, but its prominence has grown in recent years. Bean and other companies, he said, can highlight the month’s message and help point people toward resources providing mental health care.

NAMI Maine, he said, has been encouraging use of its statewide toll-free hotline at 800-464-5767 for those looking for resources for help with their mental health. Martin said NAMI Maine also encourages company officials to have conversations with employees about mental health and make sure they can offer immediate referrals for those who feel they need help.

It’s important for people to seek help before they have a mental health crisis, he said, and that’s why NAMI Maine and other organizations want people to reach out at the first signs they might be experiencing mental health problems.

“No conversation is too small,” Martin said.

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