SOURCE: International Foundation for Education and Research on Depression

May 24, 2013 08:52 ET

International Field for Hope Campaign Plants HOPE; Seeks to End the Stigma of Depression

Supporters From Around the World 'Pledge to Plant' a Sunflower in Honor of Those Living With Depression

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - May 24, 2013) -  International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression (iFred) today announced its Field for Hope campaign, an international awareness effort that seeks to end the stigma of depression by asking supporters to "Pledge to Plant" a virtual sunflower in honor of the 350 million people living with the disease. According to the World Health Organization, depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide.

The campaign kicked off this May during Mental Health Awareness Month, and unites mental health advocates, nonprofit organizations, corporations, celebrities and supporters around the world universally sharing the sunflower as the symbol of HOPE for depression. Sunflowers are yellow; the color of joy, happiness and hope-symbolizing that depression can be successfully treated. This symbol, if used in a similar way to the pink ribbon for breast cancer or red dress for heart disease, will serve as a much more hopeful and positive icon for depression survivors than each organization's unique symbology alone.

Chicago businesswoman and depression survivor Kathryn Goetzke founded iFred after losing her father to depression when she was 19. Since then she has survived the disease herself and become a tireless advocate for the cause, speaking at international forums about the 'brand' history of depression, shaping a positive brand and de-stigmatizing the disease.

"Depression is treatable, but less than 25 percent of those with depression receive treatment due to stigma. We plant hope for those people using sunflowers as a universal symbol that treatment is possible," said Goetzke. "By mobilizing an online global community of advocates through 'Pledge to Plant' we plan to bring much needed awareness to the impact depression has on families, communities and countries around the world."

Field for Hope is the largest-scale, international effort in history focused directly on raising awareness for depression research and education. Last year, the campaign successfully led to planting sunflowers in fields across Ghana, Kenya, Nepal, Germany, Mexico, Australia, the United States and more. This unique movement has captured the attention of leaders, activists, media and celebrities from around the world whose lives have also been affected by the disease. 

"Depression is a tough subject to talk about," said musician Rick Springfield, who has talked openly about living with depression, including in his documentary, "An Affair of the Heart," being released on DVD in July and currently airing on EPIX. "Campaigns like Field for Hope and the 'Pledge to Plant' help get people to start talking about mental illness, which will hopefully let others know that there are treatment options out there for them. Also it's very important to know you are not alone. We are social animals and depression tends to lead us away from that. It's good to know you're not the only one with the dark feelings. It's very healing to talk to someone."

In addition to planting a virtual sunflower at, individuals or groups can pledge to plant a live Sunflower for Hope, Garden for Hope or Field for Hope in their local community.

  • A Sunflower for Hope: In addition to your virtual plant, plant a LIVE sunflower in your back yard, on a windowsill; anywhere! Put up a small yard sign showcasing your support. Ask others to join you in planting hope.
  • A Garden for Hope: Plant a garden at a local school or community area and get people involved in planting. Start conversations about maintaining a healthy brain, especially among youth. Print and post a sign, found in our digital toolbox, and share the photos with us.
  • A Field for Hope: Dedicate your current sunflower field, or plant your own. Be bold and ask a farmer to dedicate his field to the cause. The ask is easy: "Would you please erect a sign honoring the 350 million people around the world needing an additional symbol of HOPE?" Share photos of the farmer and field on Facebook to inspire others around the world.

Individuals can visit to pledge to plant a sunflower, garden or field, and encourage friends and family members to shine a light of HOPE by taking the pledge as well. For more information visit and follow or

The mission of International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression (iFred) is to shine a positive light on depression and eliminate the stigma associated with the disease through prevention, research and education. Its goal is to ensure 100% of the 350 million people affected by depression seek and receive treatment. 

iFred is creating a shift in society's negative perception of depression through positive imagery and branding-establishing the sunflower and color yellow as the international symbols of hope for depression. To further its mission, iFred engages with individuals and organizations to execute high-impact and effective campaigns that educate the public about support and treatment for depression. 

The following files are available for download:

Contact Information

  • Contact information
    Sarah Newman