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Stigma can make it hard for people with depression to talk or get help. We need to build better mental health support systems. However, in order to do so, we need advocates. And we need to work together.
I founded The One Project nearly 10 years ago to educate people on how photography can be a therapeutic way to discuss mental health challenges, like depression and anxiety. We now have a private community with members from all around the world.
After almost a decade as a mental health advocate, I’ve seen many special people, projects, and organizations blossom.
Here are some of my favorite mental health innovators who are doing great work across the globe:
Blake Loates is a depression advocate, photographer, and friend. She uses her talents to share the faces and stories of depression to advocate for better mental health care across Canada.
Her nonprofit peer-support group, We All Believe In You, has partnered with many charities and government health organizations, and has helped to advise on their programs.
Blake brings community together to help bridge the gaps between mental health services and our everyday lives. Get inspired by following her on Instagram, where she keeps it 100 percent real.
I found Hannah on Instagram a while back when I was searching for interesting mental health artists. I loved her #BoringSelfCare series.
Hannah’s beautiful illustrations remind you that simple tasks can seem much more challenging when you’re struggling with depression. I love her post descriptions as they really make her work resonate.
Check out Hannah’s beautiful work on Instagram.
When you’re in crisis, it can be hard to get the immediate help you need. That’s what makes the Crisis Text Line so amazing.
The group leverages the immediacy and anonymity of modern technology to help tear down those barriers that keep people from getting help. A short text message connects people in crisis with trained counselors. They also use algorithms to prioritize the queue of messages by severity.
Crisis Text Line launched in the United States in 2013. It has now also launched in Canada and the United Kingdom.
Sad Girls Club is an online and real-life community that lets women of color know they aren’t alone.
Elyse Fox founded the platform after she released a documentary film about her life living with depression. Young women from all over the world contacted her for support with their personal mental health struggles.
The community Elyse built aims to break down mental health stigma. It also helps to connect women who can’t currently access mental health services for treatment.
I believe it’s very important to have diverse voices and initiatives at the forefront of mental health advocacy. Our challenges, needs, and stories are unique. Follow Elyse on Instagram.
Foundry is a unique initiative that focuses on early intervention as well as prevention of mental health issues. It prioritizes the input of young people and families. While it is based in British Columbia and currently only serves a Canadian population, I wanted to include it in this list because it seems like a model that could work well in the States – or anywhere, for that matter.
This impressive partnership of over 100 organizations offers health care and social services for people ages 12 to 24.
A team of service providers at Foundry centers help each person to create their own wellness plan. They then empower them with the tools, support, and strategies they need to thrive.
I’ve found that many attempts by some organizations to appeal to young people fall short in some way — or just miss the mark. They don’t connect. Foundry clearly involves young people to inform its development, and I feel it works beautifully.
It’s so inspiring to see all of the progress that we’ve made together to help bring mental health issues into everyday conversations.
These initiatives create a community that’s supportive and accessible. They’re only just a small snapshot of the innovations that are happening in the world of mental health advocacy.
I encourage all of you to get involved. Support an organization that speaks to you and use these as templates for your own local projects. Or, why not just use them to spark conversations with your friends, family, and community?
Speak up. Take action. Be the change.
For more information on how to manage depression, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.