Supernatural: Misha Collins on launching a support network for fans
After 11 seasons on the air, Supernatural not only has one of the most loyal fan bases on television, but it also has one of the most active. From winning EW’s Fanuary to helping multiple charity campaigns to succeed, the SPN Family is a close-knit community, and it’s one that actors Misha Collins, Jensen Ackles, and Jared Padalecki care about deeply.
All three actors have worked on charity campaigns in the past, but now, the actors are launching a campaign aimed to specifically provide the fandom with support.
“We have this interesting exposure to our fandom in the form of conventions, where we go and we meet fans face-to-face pretty much every other weekend,” Collins says. “And we have occasion to meet thousands and thousands of Supernatural fans and at every event, every one of us encounters as many as a dozen people who share really heart-rending stories about self-harm or addiction or depression or suicide attempts. We see a lot of people with tattoos of semicolons on themselves — the semicolon is where the author could’ve chosen to end a sentence but instead chose to carry it on so it’s a very potent symbol for somebody who’s struggled with near-death situations and forged on.”
And after years of hearing those stories, Collins has partnered with his fellow actors to launch The SPNFamily Crisis Support Network, a community support system to help fans cope with mental health issues such as depression, self-injury, and addiction.
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Specifically, Collins and Ackles have recently launched You Are Not Alone, a T-shirt campaign from which proceeds will help launch the support network. Furthermore, they’re working with a number of nonprofits to get the network off the ground. “The nonprofit Random Acts is housing this network in partnership with two other nonprofits, IMAlive and To Write Love of Her Arms, which are helping us,” Collins says.”They have experience in this realm so they’re helping us build it in a an efficacious way.”
And in doing so, they’re hoping to create a space for fans to turn to one another in times of need. “For whatever reason, it seems to be something that is prevalent, or at least bubbles to the surface in our fandom. It’s just something that seems to be affecting a lot of people,” Collins says, adding, “I think one of the big problems that people face when they’re struggling with these things is not knowing where to turn. But if you are part of a community and you know that that community is offering help in a certain way and it’s something that you know is there, I think it might be really helpful. Anyway, that’s what me and Jared and Jensen thought.”
And after about six months of working on pulling everything together, The SPNFamily Crisis Support Network is becoming a reality. “We have psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and so far, about 1,500 people have volunteered to help man the hotlines,” Collins says, noting that part of the network is fans being trained to help fans, but that’s only after each person who volunteers is thoroughly vetted and trained.
But for now, this is just the beginning. “I’m really excited to actually see this thing hit the ground,” Collins says.
Supernatural airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.
Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki star as the Winchester brothers, hellbent on battling the paranormal forces of evil.