9/30/21: Changing the Narrative Around Mental Health

The other day on a major podcast, I was so proud of how @robinlehner40 eloquently called out the stats that get regurgitated, daily, in this space…the catch phrases & campaigns. None of it’s REAL.

What’s REAL are the details of our experiences which show we ALL face challenges that impact our mental health. It happens at different times in our lives, from different events, different lifestyle choices, & of course different genetics…but if we ALL face it at some point, there should be no shame. And yet, the shame remains.

The “normalization campaigns” don’t change the convo. In fact, in screaming for change, these campaigns may actually do the opposite- because they re-enforce the problems that exist in the first place.

I got emailed pics yesterday from a school we work closely with…who I’ve mentioned before, @sayvillestrides, in eastern LI. Their SEL leader gets “it.”

She takes ideas, gets not only student, but admin, teacher, parent (& even local biz) buy-in. They took a sign we were using with a pro sports team to get fans to open up/share/normalize, & tweaked it to use for all of their school/community members.

The sign allowed these members to share their “SameHere Challenges” that they face (not a disorder – but life situations, or recurring thoughts, hurdles bothering them), & to then explain what they’ve done to make “STRIDES” over those challenges.

Seeing these pics gave me chills. The school used their OWN message in STRIDES, but incorporated in the idea of SameHere, to bring everyone closer together, modeling vulnerability. They had a parade with their signs, filled out LARGE lawn signs so that others could see their challenges, & perhaps most impactful, they got in front of a mic & shared their challenges verbally/publicly to the crowds in attendance.

Some of the stories that come from this day are magical – kids saying things like: “I never knew so many others struggled with the same.” I’ll let @jillianmakris share more.

WE can change the narrative. We have the tools to let the vulnerability do the magic. It’s work, but such rewarding work. And boots on the ground is the only way the change happens.

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