Many of you have been asking what the difference is, if any, between BHAG and BEHAG. Let’s explain. BHAG stands for Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal, an idea conceptualized in the book, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. According to Collins and Porras, a BHAG is a long-term goal that changes the very nature of a business' existence.

A different initiative is the creation of a national, inter-organizational campaign with a big, hairy, orange mascot at the center titled “BEHAG,” which is different from BHAG. The orange character, “Buddy,” is a visually distinctive character with a caring, kind, and lovable personality for conveying a serious message around the alarming rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide. Since this problem is much bigger than any one individual or organization, this character serves as an independent advocate to encourage communities and organizations to come together to tackle this national epidemic. Although big and hairy, the “e” stands for empathy, which is not only a great core value, but is also part of the solution.

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As a way of background, animated characters have long been associated with institutions, organizations and products to draw attention, increase likability and help shift the public paradigm. If we mention “Smokey Bear,” you will instantly know who he is and what he stands for. Smokey warned us that, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” and we all had the sense that Smokey was not a bear to be trifled with, yet we knew that without our cooperation, he and his forest companions were in serious trouble. That campaign has had immense popularity and has lasted not years, but decades. We like Smokey and we want to help him.

There are characters and mascots that represent mental health as well. For example, Ellie the Elephant is a mascot for a public education campaign on mental health. The metaphor of an “elephant in the room” refers to an obvious problem that people do not want to talk about. After all, there are deeply held social stigmas around mental health and the consequences of doing nothing are just unacceptable. Through Buddy the BEHAG’s public service messages on Facebook, amusing stories on Instagram, innovative programs, and national conversations, Buddy BEHAG hopes to raise awareness of the need for better solutions for persons living with mental health conditions. Buddy wants the campaign to undergo a transformation to a nonprofit charitable entity. Creating BEHAG as a focal point and developing this platform to bring people together not only encourages acceptance, compassion and understanding, but is a potent way to tackle this problem.