We had the good fortune of connecting with Erin Herle and Valéry Brosseau and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Erin and Valéry, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
Erin Herle: #SubmitTheStigma started as a campaign to spread awareness of mental health within the Jiu Jitsu community. The aspect of sport relies on a healthy mindset and competitive spirit. Physicality garners more attention from coaches and athletes but the emphasis on mental wellness is often missing. As a non-profit since 2016, #SubmitTheStigma aims to make mental health as important as physical health. The martial art of Jiu Jitsu contributes to many mentally healthy habits with its goal-oriented curriculum, supportive community, physical exertion, and mentally-stimulating problem-solving nature. All of these things mirror mental health and so we strive to make aware these benefits to those who already train and those who should. Throughout our five years, we have created our own community of supportive individuals who echo our message of mental health. The impact we have made is only a small percentage of what we have planned by way of programs and volunteer opportunities. We can’t wait to continue our mission of mental health advocacy

Valéry Brosseau: #SubmitTheStigma started as a small, grassroots movement. Our founder and executive director, Erin, wanted to spread awareness for mental health in the Jiu Jitsu sphere. Since these humble beginnings, we have had the luck of helping #SubmitTheStigma grow and build a community of honesty, vulnerability and non-judgment. In a sport where mental toughness is lauded, we help make space for struggle, for mental illness and for reaching out for help. Our original focus was to break down stigma and start an honest conversation but we are quickly expanding and will soon be offering training for BJJ academy owners and coaches. This training will allow them to build a more mental health conscious academy and be a safer space for their students. Mental health is health and talking about it could save a life. Our hope is that our message and efforts teach people that seeking out support is not weakness and that mental illness is not something to be judged for.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Our organization is still growing and expanding but we have already made strides we are very proud of. It has not always been easy as we face our own mental health challenges while promoting awareness for mental health and illness and breaking down stigma in the community at large. However, we are relentless in changing the common narrative that mental health concerns are weakness and seeking help is anything but a strength. We have learned to rely on each other, and to rely on our community. We have learned the power of vulnerability. We want the world to know that we have big plans for #SubmitTheStigma and want to create a safe environment for anyone to express themselves, receive the support they need and learn how to support others.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In line with our message, the plan would most likely include all kinds of things beneficial to our mental health. We would spend time outdoors, go for hikes, spend time at home and find moments to be honest with each other and provide each other the support we might need. As a Jiu Jitsu related non-profit, we would also definitely make the time to get on the mats and get some training in! There is a lot of amazing Jiu Jitsu in the area!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
#SubmitTheStigma at its root is a community movement. We would like to dedicate our shoutout in two parts. Firstly, the Herle family deserves recognition as the non-profit is truly a family affair, being heavily supported by our founder and executive director Erin Herle’s mother and sister – Karen and Morgan. They have been invaluable in our story. Secondly, our Jiu Jitsu community as a whole has been incredible in supporting us, believing in us and spreading our message. Without their trust and vulnerability we would not be making progress.

Website: www.submitthestigma.org

Instagram: @submitthestigma

Facebook: Submit The Stigma

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