Umbrella US

You can Open Doors for ND Belonging with us in a variety of ways.

A Promise for the Future: Supporting Our Neurodivergent Contributors

Quote on a teal background surrounded by purple and green comic cloud bursts. Text: A future where our panelists and authors are compensated for their invaluable contributions.

We want to begin by expressing our heartfelt appreciation for your unwavering support of Umbrella US. Our mission to promote neurodiversity awareness, acceptance, inclusion, and belonging for all neurodivergent (ND) people would not be possible without the dedication and expertise of our incredible contributors who share their valuable insights and experiences with us.

Our Current Situation

We have not been able to provide financial compensation to our panelists and authors for their contributions thus far. We understand that this may raise questions and concerns, and we want to be completely transparent about our situation.

Our Commitment to Change

We fully recognize the need to compensate those who contribute their time, knowledge, and talents to our organization. We value the work of our contributors immensely, and we are committed to creating a sustainable framework to fairly compensate them.

The Path Forward

We want to assure you that our inability to pay our panelists and authors at this time is not a reflection of their worth or the value of their contributions. Instead, it is a reflection of our current financial situation. As a newly formed not-for-profit organization, we are 100% volunteer run and our resources are limited. We rely on fundraising efforts and grants to support our programs and initiatives. Generally, funders want proof of concept before they make financial contributions.

Our Funding Strategy

Securing funding for our organization is a top priority, and we are actively working towards this goal. We are identifying and pursuing various funding opportunities to build a stable financial foundation. These efforts will enable us to allocate funds for compensating our panelists and authors.

Our Vision for the Future

Our vision for the future is clear: Belonging and Economic Security for Neurodivergent Individuals and their Families. We aim to create a platform where neurodivergent individuals and allies are not only celebrated but also fairly compensated for their valuable contributions. We envision a time when our panelists and authors receive the recognition and remuneration they deserve.

How You Can Help

We believe in the power of community support, and we invite you to join us on this journey. Your continued support through contributions, donations, volunteering, and spreading awareness about Umbrella US makes a significant difference. Every contribution—there is no such thing as “just a small contribution”— brings us one step closer to our goal of providing fair compensation to our contributors.

In closing, we want to express our deep gratitude for your understanding and patience as we work toward a future where our panelists and authors are compensated for their invaluable contributions. We are committed to transparency, and we will keep you updated on our progress every step of the way.

Together, we can create a more inclusive and equitable world for neurodivergent folks and their families. We look forward to the day when we can fulfill our promise to compensate those who work with Umbrella US to build a sustainable and economically secure ND community.

As we come to the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, I’m incredibly grateful for all the discussion I’ve seen around the intersection between neurodivergence and mental health issues. This is such an important topic for our community, and we need to keep having these open, honest conversations as we learn how to take care of ourselves and support each other.

Five Reasons Neurodivergent Folks Are Great at Providing Mental Health Support

  1. We listen without pre-judgement. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, we tend to take things at face value. We’re listening to what is being said, not looking for underlying messages or hidden meanings. We tend to go into conversations without assumptions already in place. This is just how our brains work around communication. Second, many of us have a lifetime experience of being misunderstood and misjudged. We’re less likely to jump to conclusions and assume the worst, because we know firsthand how much that can hurt, and how much damage it can do. Don’t get me wrong, we might judge you—but it will be because of what you say or do, not because of prejudice we brought into the conversation with us.
  2. We’re straightforward in communication. A lot of times, neurodivergent folks are viewed as “challenging” or “difficult” because of our tendency to speak plainly. In a lot of social situations, this is seen as a problem. But when we’re talking about mental health issues, it’s important to be direct and unambiguous. This is especially true when discussing suicide and self injury, but it applies to any mental health struggle. Euphemisms and “soft” language aren’t helpful. Clear, direct language helps the person experiencing the mental health problem know that it’s okay to talk about it, and helps the person providing support understand what is going on and how best to help.
  3. We’re not afraid to sit with you in silence. Silence can be uncomfortable for a lot of people. Talking about mental health struggles can also be very uncomfortable. It’s normal and natural that some people want to fill up the silence in a conversation around mental health. Neurodivergent people tend to be more comfortable sitting in silence and letting someone talk when they’re ready, rather than trying to force a conversation. This can be really valuable for someone who is talking about struggles with mental health. It’s important to give people time to think, and to process, and even to just sit with their thoughts and feelings. It’s important to give them time to work through things, without the pressure of holding up a conversation. It’s also important to let them know the focus is on them and what they’re trying to communicate, rather than shifting the conversation in a different direction. Attentive silence can be a huge help to someone struggling with their mental health, and it’s something many ND folks excel at.
  4. We ask great questions. LIke our tendency to speak directly and plainly, our tendency to ask a lot of questions can be seen as “challenging” or “difficult” in some social situations. However, our need to clarify and understand means we ask really good questions. When someone is struggling with mental health, sometimes the right question at the right time can be like a ray of light. For one thing, thoughtful questions let us know the person genuinely cares, and genuinely wants to understand. For another thing, when we’re trying to find the words to explain how we’re feeling, or what happened to make us feel that way, it can help us gain new insights or perspectives that we might not have found on our own. Good questions can let people know you care, help them open up about what they’re going through, and help them work through the issue.
  5. We can offer a different perspective. When we’re in crisis, it’s easy to get caught in a feedback loop of negativity. That’s why it can be so helpful to talk to someone: outside observations can help break the loop. Many neurodivergent people are great at noticing details. We also tend to be creative, “outside the box” thinkers. These traits help us notice things other people might miss, and offer insights and perspectives that challenge the “status quo.” When dealing with mental health issues, small details and different perspectives can be incredibly helpful in challenging and breaking that negative feedback loop. Once the loop is broken, it’s a lot easier to move on to processing the experience and working toward a resolution.

Of course this list is based on generalizations. It doesn’t apply equally to all neurodivergent folks. We are all individuals, and we all have our own strengths and challenges. Still, for those of us who feel comfortable supporting other people, these are some of the reasons why.

To wrap up, I want to offer some resources:

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has lots of information and resources. These guides on how to talk about mental health are tailored for different groups, easy to follow, and updated regularly.

Mental Health America provides great tips and even templates to help you get started in talking about mental health.

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) by LivingWorks is a two-day workshop that anyone can sign up for. While the focus is on suicide prevention, the skills taught can be used to support anyone dealing with a mental health crisis.

988 Suicide and Crisis LifeLine offers support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year via call, chat, or text.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a great resource for people with mental health issues, as well as family and friends. They offer information, training, support groups, and more.

This article by Patty Laushman lists a number of resources to help neurodivergent individuals navigate mental health challenges.

Picture of Lelah Erb-Bashaw

Lelah Erb-Bashaw

Lelah Erb-Bashaw, M.S., B.C.A.S.E, is a multiply neurodivergent, multiply disabled nonbinary Muppet gleefully flailing their way through this thing called life. Their patchwork background has led to a passion for education and advocacy, particularly in the areas of special education, neuroinclusion, and disability. When they’re not working, they can generally be found hanging out with their spouse and their dogs, reading voraciously, accidentally killing sack people in Little Big Planet, or yelling at people on TV shows for doing CPR wrong.