FOUNDER/CEO, FIND YOUR ANCHOR, ORANGE COUNTY CA
Ali Borowsky is the Founder and CEO of Find Your Anchor, a grassroots movement aimed at suicide prevention and awareness — which has been praised by Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, American Association of Suicidology, the San Francisco 49ers, and Jeff (her downstairs neighbor). She is an experienced graphic designer who made a name for herself in Chicago as the Design Lead for the NHL Winter Classic and Stadium Series, before fleeing the winter for Southern California.
Armed to the teeth with Pilot G2 pens, Moleskine sketchbooks, and kazoos, she lives and breathes good fonts, big waves, and long walks down art store aisles. For years, Ali has enjoyed playing outside center on the rugby pitch, and often drives across the country for games, carnivals and sometimes just because the wind is blowing.
Find Your Anchor aims to support those who may be struggling and de-stigmatize conversations surrounding suicide and mental health — with creativity and a personal touch.
At the heart of Find Your Anchor’s mission is a small blue box. Once referred to as a “mental health first aid kit,” each box is packed with good vibes and materials designed to inspire, soothe, and offer support. This tangible resource includes a “52+ Reasons to Live” deck of cards, infographic on depression, list of mental health resources, posters, stickers, bracelet, mixtape, a letter, and a whole bunch of other good vibes.
FYA boxes are in 37 different countries, hundreds of schools, and have been requested by thousands of people.
Tell us how and why you became involved in socially responsible communications, any thoughts on why design can be an especially effective tool for this goal, and, if you wish, give us an example of a project of which you are proud.
Find Your Anchor was born out of lived experience. I created FYA because I’ve personally struggled — having survived multiple attempts. Everything that I encountered in the mental health world was so sterile. Just a ton of white pamphlets with 1-800-NUMBERS.
So corporate. So clinical. This is one of the most personal things that a person can go through, but I just felt like another statistic. In my darkest moments, I didn’t want a single sided brochure with a bunch of numbers. I wanted — needed — to know someone cared. Those impersonal resources didn’t resonate with me, so I decided to create something that would. Find Your Anchor is created by someone who gets it. By someone who has been there. By someone who cares.
Not to mention the mental health world needs more color — in every sense of the world. Turning to design, it became my mission to infuse a little more humanity into suicide prevention. For those contemplating suicide, there is an overwhelming sense of loneliness and abandonment, despair, hopelessness. I wanted something specifically for them, a box full of ideas, support and inspiration. A box full of anchors (little joys in life). Designed with them in mind, I wanted those in need to open the box and think “someone cared enough to make this for me.” I wanted to provide, or spark, within them a reason to fight.
Given the confluence of events and challenges our society now faces, does this moment in time present any special opportunities, urgencies, obstacles to designing for good?
The last few years have been stressful (to say the least). I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that stress is not good for your mental health. This collective struggle we’ve experienced has created more opportunities to talk about how we feel. If we can talk about our struggles in a more creative, engaging, and personal way through design, these interactions will be more powerful and effective.
It could even save lives.