Chester Bennington’s widow, Talinda Bennington, is asking fans to help change the direction of mental health awareness. As a way to commemorate the Late Linkin Park frontman’s birthday, Talinda took to social media to ask Chester’s fans to post a photo of themselves on March 20 holding up their hands with “I AM THE CHANGE” written on them. Chester would have turned 42 on March 20, which is also the first day of spring.
“To honor @ChesterBe Bday, I’m asking you to Change Direction. On March 20th. Post a pic holding up your hand, which symbolizes you know the 5 signs of emotional well-being. Write ‘I AM THE CHANGE’ on your hand. Bcuz the change begins within ourselves,” Talinda Bennington wrote.
Talinda also posted a link to her 320 Changes initiative, which was launched to address the stigma surrounding mental health after Chester’s suicide last July. According to Billboard, the “I AM THE CHANGE” hand symbolizes the five signs of emotional well-being, which are “take care, check in, engage, relax, and know.”
Talinda Bennington recently attended the Canadian Event Safety Summit, where she spoke candidly about mental illness and how Chester coped with the suicide death of his close friend, Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, just two months before he took his own life.
“When Chester died, it was a complete surprise,” Talinda Bennington said, according to AltPress.
“We had a very dear friend, Chris Cornell, take his life, and I felt OK, Chester sees what [Chris’s wife] Vicky and the kids are going through, and this would never happen. So we went on a family trip…My husband was full of life. He was very excited to be promoting his new album, so he was happy. He gave me his goodbye; he gave my kids his goodbye, and I never saw him again.”
Talinda Bennington also revealed that her late husband struggled with addiction and depression for years, so she has made it her mission to try to help to normalize mental health programs and make fans aware that it is OK to ask for help when they need it.
“Taking care of your mental health is as important as taking care of your physical health,” Bennington said.
On the 320 Changes website, Talinda Bennington revealed that she watched Chester struggle with depression and substance abuse throughout the 13 years that they were together. Bennington said she previously found it difficult to find answers to her questions about mental health. After Chester’s death, Talinda knew she had to “make a change to the mental health landscape,” so she began talking to every mental health group she could find.
“So here is what I learned,” Bennington said. “We don’t need to create more programs – there are good ones out there. But we do need to…streamline access to the help that IS available. And we need to change the culture of mental health so that those in need – and their family members – are able to speak openly about their struggles so that they can seek the care they deserve.”
There is no doubt that the death of Chris Cornell hit Chester Bennington very hard. In an open letter posted after Chris Cornell’s suicide death, Chester wrote that he was grateful that he had been able to spend so many special moments with Chris and his family. Now, Chester Bennington’s 42nd birthday will certainly be a difficult day for his own family and for his fans. Chester was found dead after he hung himself last July 20, the day that would have been Chris Cornell’s 53rd birthday.
You can see Talinda Bennington talking about Chester’s death as well as her work with mental health awareness in the video below.