Hi, How Are You Project hopes virtual ‘Happy Habits’ raises mental health awareness


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two Austin groups are collaborating to raise awareness for mental health starting Friday with a “Happy Habit-A-Thon.”

The Hi, How Are You Project and American Campus Communities teamed up to put on the multi-day event that urges people to incorporate habits in their lives that “promote and maintain mental wellness.”

People can register for the “Happy Habit-A-Thon” at the project’s website, and there they can select any size of donation for bingo-style cards with 10 “Happy Habits” activities on them. The next step is to complete s many of the habits by Feb. 1, documenting progress along the way on social media using the hashtag #hihowareyouday and tagging the project’s account using the handle @hihowareyouproject.

People who do all 10 activities by Feb. 1 will be eligible to win “a variety of prizes,” a press release from the project says.

This event takes the place of the project’s usual fundraising concert during Austin City Limits since COVID-19 has shut down large in-person activities.

“It takes courage to break down the stigma around mental health issues, so we hope that by sharing easy-to-follow activities and helpful tips, Happy-Habit-A-Thon participants will be inspired to live healthy, balanced lives and also regularly check-in on others,” said Tom Gimbel, a co-founder of the Hi, How Are You Project.

Organizers say people in 20 countries have already registered for the fundraiser.

Friday marks “Hi, How Are You Day,” which honors the birthday of Daniel Johnston. Johnston painted the iconic mural on the Goodall Wooten building at the corner of Guadalupe and 21st near the University of Texas at Austin campus. Johnston, also a musician, openly struggled with mental illness. He died in 2019.

Another way mental health awareness is being promoted is through the color green. Austin City Hall will be green starting Friday, and ACC will light up its student housing buildings in green as well, and they are encouraging others to do the same.

“We want to kick off 2021 by forming healthy and productive habits that help lay a foundation for mental wellness,” said Gina Cowart, ACC vice president. “We hope it serves as a reminder for anyone dealing with any sort of mental distress that it is okay to not be okay and to always ask for help.”

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