Miss Philadelphia Joins AIR's Advisory Board Member to Extend the Reach of her Mental Health Advocacy
Alysa Bainbridge has served as a mental health advocate from a very young age. When she entered the Miss America Organization at age 15, choosing mental health awareness as her platform was a no-brainer. Both of Alysa’s siblings struggled with bipolar disorder and, in January of 2018, she lost her older brother to an opioid overdose. Alysa has made it her goal to uphold her brother’s legacy, end the stigma surrounding mental illness, and give hope to others who are struggling. Alysa currently serves as Miss Philadelphia, working to end stigma through her social media movement #MoreThanBipolar, which aims to celebrate and humanize those suffering from mental illnesses and let them know that they are so much more than that illness. Alysa has been a guest speaker and volunteer for AIR for several years and is thrilled to be with an organization that is very special to her to share her message.
How and why did you get involved with the Ms. Philadelphia and other contests?
I grew up with pageantry and knew I wanted to pursue it practically since I was born! My mother, Michele, directed a pageant while I was growing up, and the girls who competed in it were my greatest role models. I wanted to be them. I entered the Miss America program when I was 15 because of the endless opportunities it opens up. I knew being a titleholder would give me that platform to be a role model and give me the voice I needed to be a mental health advocate. I chose to pursue the title of Miss Philadelphia, in particular, because of the incredible experiences, connections, and scholarship that Miss Philadelphia is allowed. There are endless opportunities for me to have a big impact as a mental health advocate in Philadelphia, in particular, as it is the epicenter of the opioid epidemic and many of its public schools lack mental health education.
How and why did you get involved with AIR?
I met AIR at one of my very first appearances as a titleholder, at a mental health conference. We shared stories, they asked me to speak at the Miki and Friends Walk that year, and the rest is history! AIR has been a major platform for me to share my story and do my own work as an advocate. I knew I wanted to partner with AIR not only because they are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met, but also because their story resonates with my own. I think AIR is unique as a mental health organization and a trailblazer in mental health advocacy nationally!