Mental illness is a serious topic that, while more open for discussion now, is still negatively perceived by many due to perpetuated stigmas. With stigma comes a sense of distance, a sense of separation – labels of “the other” emerge and it becomes easy to feel hatred, disgust, or hostility towards those with mental illness because terrifyingly, people no longer feel connected as a human race. Storytelling has been shown to be a direct link to connection, as the expression of stories are something that everyone can connect with. The emotions underlying stories – sadness, happiness, sense of loss, hopelessness, joy, and more – serve as a thread that binds through each human being. If you’re considering sharing your own story of mental illness with others, there are many benefits to doing this:
- Develop your own narrative about your mental illness, which you may not have done before.
- Broaden the discussion of mental health by adding some new information.
- Educate people on the signs and symptoms of a mental illness.
- Let others know they’re not alone.
- Provide healthy coping mechanisms and other great resources for people to try.
- Inspire others to seek help.
- Correct misunderstandings surrounding mental health and mental illness.
- Give a new perspective to people who are skeptical about the lived experiences of those with mental illness.
- Explain the pain that is experienced when mental illness is involved, especially if stigma and bullying are present.
The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) in Colorado discussed last year the impact that digital storytelling can have on stigmas surrounding mental illness. A prominent leader of NAMI in Colorado, Caleigh Cassidy, summed up the benefits of storytelling by stating, “I learned in my abnormal psych class that one of the best ways to destigmatize mental illness is sharing stories and to know people on a more human level before you know about their mental illness. It’s just a great way to build empathy and understanding.”
As human beings, we all have experienced the universal emotions of anger, fear, disgust, happiness, sadness, surprise, and contempt. Storytelling gives people the chance to connect with these emotions, whether they have a mental illness. Mental health is important for everyone and sharing your story could bring a lot of undiscussed albeit important topics to light.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, contact us today at 855-668-9094 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.