As People explains, Isan’s ambassador role is a personal one because her mother, Hanne “Kim” Norgaard, suffers from mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.
At a luncheon in Beverly Hills, Isan explained, “It was only about two years ago that my mom opened up to me. I’m not going to lie, it’s a struggle every day. It’s a learning lesson for me, but it’s hard. Mental health is something that’s hard to deal with. We just sat down and talked about it, and I think that was better for her, talking about it and talking about it with someone who means the most in her life and just getting that out.”
Once Isan learned what her mother was going through, “It was like, ‘Whoa.’ . . . It was definitely a learning curve. I’m so much closer to my mom now because I know what she’s going through.”
At the luncheon, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association made the announcement that $50,000 would be donated to the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in Isan’s name. As the Henson Foundation website states, their goal “is to eradicate the stigma around mental health issues in the African-American community.”
“Mental health, specifically among African Americans and my peers in particular, is something I really want to be more vocal about,” Isan said. “There’s this perceived stigma and I’ve seen friends struggle. We need to empower young people to not be afraid to ask for help.”
Isan told Variety, “Being able to have this platform, and talk about something that I care about that hits home, was really like, ‘Yes, I have to do this.’ It’s something I care about and like I said, using your influence to talk about something you care about or an issue that needs to be fixed, I thought it was the perfect opportunity.”
Isan also explained that after the luncheon, “[She] will still continue to advocate for mental health. And in the African-American community and among teenagers, because I’m both, and it’s such taboo in both communities.”