Tonight, Supernatural returns to start its 12th season. The monster-hunting adventures of Sam and Dean Winchester (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) have developed quite the fandom over the years, one that’s been the subject of a thoroughly-researched book, has its own movie on the way, and is notorious for its enthusiasm.
The Supernatural fandom is also known for how deeply its members care about mental health.
Last year, when Padalecki opened up about his struggle with depression, fans came out in droves to support him — first online, with the #AlwaysKeepFighting hashtag, and then at San Diego Comic Con, where an entire panel audience offered him a heartwarming gesture of support. From there, Padalecki and his costars mobilized the Supernatural fandom to raise money for causes like To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and OneOrlando.
But it wasn’t until earlier this year that the Supernatural stars set out to offer their own fandom more help.
Misha Collins, Supernatural’s angel Castiel, worked with Ackles to raise funds for the #SPNFamily Crisis Support Network, a new initiative that the pair put together with the help of TWLOHA, IMAlive and Random Acts. It encourages Supernatural fans to sign up for free training as crisis responders, and provides access to local crisis hotlines and other mental health resources for those in need.
Collins spoke with EW about the initiative earlier this year.
‘For whatever reason, it seems to be something that is prevalent, or at least bubbles to the surface in our fandom. It’s just something that seems to be affecting a lot of people,’ Collins says, adding, ‘I think one of the big problems that people face when they’re struggling with these things is not knowing where to turn. But if you are part of a community and you know that that community is offering help in a certain way and it’s something that you know is there, I think it might be really helpful.’
As we’ve found in our own community, people everywhere need somewhere to turn. It’s great to see Supernatural using its many, many years of popularity to help some of the people who love it most.
Supernatural’s season 12 premiere airs tonight on the CW at 9 p.m., 8 CT.