REB judge

Mitch Wallis

Founder
Heart On My Sleeve Movement

Mitch Wallis is an emerging leader in the millennial generation with a lifelong mission to empower others to overcome suffering and reimagine the healing power of the mind through the power of storytelling, community and technology.

Mitch joined Microsoft as an intern when he was 19, the youngest person in the company at the time. After five years in the Aussie sub, Mitch secured a role at the head office as global product marketing manager for Surface, where he led some of the biggest launches in the hardware space, managing the relationship with Vogue, working on the NFL, even pitching to Robert Downey Jr.

But that was just the outside. His inside life wasn’t the perfect Instagram moment. All this time, Mitch has suffered lifelong battles with anxiety, OCD, panic attacks and depression starting at the age of seven which have almost taken his life. Two years ago, he broke down completely, and it left him unable to continue his life at Microsoft, and returned to Australia. He thought it was all over.

On 30 May 2017, Mitch released a video of his experiences, hoping that his story would make others feel less alone about what they were going through. Within a week, this video reached over one million people on Facebook alone. News outlets (including Channel 10’s The Project), celebrities and influencers got on board to support the cause. We watched in awe as individuals from across the globe wore their heart on their sleeve (many even tattooing it on their body), to inspire others and free themselves from their own demons. Out of pain and torment bloomed what is now one the fastest-growing online mental health initiatives in the world — Heart On My Sleeve Movement — helping people come together, connect, heal and transform the global epidemic of mental health.

The movement was founded on the belief that it’s time to flip the conversation from thinking or being told “It’s OK to talk”, to actually believing it, owning our story, and sharing it when it may be helpful for others or yourself to do so. That’s because our current solution is focused on raising awareness, when we already know how bad the problem is. It’s also because asking people if they are OK is only half the solution.

Mitch believes we need to empower the experiencer to own their journey to wellness — safely and with impact. His intention was to harness the scale, comfort and safety that technology provides, whilst democratising self-expression, in an environment where authenticity is valued over perfection or being “fixed”. He wanted to use social media as a weapon for good, and leverage the accessibility and relevance it provides as an influential vehicle to mainstream culture. Mitch’s ultimate belief and thesis is that being REAL and living from our true self, without the guilt or shame of being "broken” or not being “enough”, is the key to overcoming the stigma associated with mental health.

Heart On My Sleeve has now evolved and matured towards a bold global vision of humanising mental health... one heart-felt story at a time, and aims to become the most inspiring collection of mental health stories on the internet.

Mitch now devotes himself full-time to helping solve the single biggest issue facing his generation. He was appointed the first ever ambassador for the Australia & New Zealand Mental Health Association, and has been named a Westfield Local Hero in their annual awards.

Mitch has a Masters of Psychology degree from Columbia University in New York and a bachelor’s degree in commerce from the University of Sydney. He is uniquely positioned to make significant positive improvement in the mental health space as he has lived the experience that allows him to relate to others, the academic understanding from his studies, the business know-how to bring his idea to life from his career at Microsoft; and a proven track record of being able to deliver. In his spare time, Mitch is a DJ, certified yoga teacher, boxer, meditation junkie, fashion tragic, pasta enthusiast, tattoo lover, writer and socialite. Family and friends are the most important thing in his life. He has visited more than 20 countries to date, represented Sydney in squash, and completed the NY marathon. His proudest achievement is doing a handstand whilst beat boxing in front of Cara Delevingne in Brooklyn NY at 3am in front of a hot dog stand. “One of the most deeply relatable, relevant and raw stories of his generation.”