Mental health has long been a taboo subject in the U.S. The stigma surrounding mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among others, is so deeply ingrained in our consciousness that even after multiple highly publicized events that involved those with mental illness, we still have trouble talking about it. It is time to bring mental illness out of the shadows and shine a light on positive initiatives to help promote mental health.
This simple hashtag starts the conversation by letting friends and family know that no matter what the issue may be, you will listen to them. Post this to all of your social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and more – to spread the word that you will provide a pair of non-judgmental ears and a compassionate heart to the people who need it most. Many people suffer with mental illness, believing they are alone and that no one will understand. Send a clear message that you will be the person they can turn to.
The Trevor Project was founded in 1998 by a group of filmmakers after they completed a movie about the eponymous 13-year-old boy who attempted to take his life after being rejected by friends for being gay. When they screened the movie, the filmmakers realized that other teens may have the same thoughts and feelings, and the U.S.’s leading national suicide prevention organization was founded.
The Trevor Lifeline, a round-the-clock suicide hotline, became the first of its kind in the nation, open to all but focusing on teens who were struggling with mental health issues as a result of their sexual orientation. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are four to six times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers, and the Trevor Project provides resources that can help them find a better way such as the hotline, TrevorChat, TrevorSpace, and school programs for education and awareness for all teens.
Kickstarter is a crowd-funding website that highlights projects from artists and entrepreneurs all over the globe. There have been some brilliant projects already funded; here we look at two that deal with mental health and are still looking for backers.
This is a half-hour documentary that was conceived after the suicide of 21-year-old dancer Evie Douglas in 2014. The aim of the documentary is to highlight mental health care in Scotland and how it may have failed Evie and other young people just like her.
This is another short film that traces the development of our brains and how we become who we are. The focus in the film is on our personal impact on the community, how we matter to everyone around us, even those we simply pass on the street.
These Kickstarter projects have reached their funding goals and are in varying states of production.
Happymart was successfully funded as of Mach 22, 2015. This Kickstarter is for a free online game that teaches people about depression. It also offers suggestions on how to help the people you love who are suffering. To follow the progress of the game, make sure to visit and follow the Happymart website, and feel free to donate to help them make the game even better.
This mobile app based out of the UK was successfully funded in February of 2015. The designers hope to provide a mobile app that offers one-to-one chats with both voice and video and both group and one-to-one text chats. The app works on most mobile devices and is totally free. Visit Anxiety United’s website for more information and to sign up.
Two years ago a Kickstarter funded what has become a powerful voice in the struggle for mental health for veterans returning home from war. This documentary theater project had its world premiere in 2014 in Chicago. Just this year, Erasing the Distance celebrated the ten-year anniversary of telling powerful stories of the struggle that veterans face with new performances, school programs, and touring storytellers.
But initiatives in mental health shouldn’t be restricted to patients and their families. Social workers and other mental health professionals work with suffering people daily, and that takes a toll on their own health and well-being.
An Indiegogo campaign for Counselors Autonomous addresses the issue of “burn out” to help counselors and social workers take care of themselves. The site offers matching services for professional development and counselors who specialize in helping mental health workers stay mentally healthy themselves. This is a vital, often-overlooked piece of the mental health puzzle.
We are always on the lookout for new ways to talk about mental health. What resources, projects, or other websites have you found?
Image by Simon Blackley via Flickr