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The power of talking with each other about mental health

Speech bubbles“The first conversation between them and someone else who suffers from mental health problems, that really opens their eyes, is the fact that what they're dealing with is normal; they’re just dealing with it alone.” Why do we deal with things alone? We all carry hopes, fears, and worries inside of us, and there’s only one way to get such things out. Text, Talk Act, is striving to foster an accepting environment where we can talk about the things that matter.

In our three-part series we meet people working on the front lines towards this goal. Their voices are joined by the text messages of Text, Talk, Act participants, who have taken part in the conversation to make a difference. The talk around mental health is personal, powerful, and raw, and hearing it might just cause you to act.

Listen to the second part of this series featuring the voices behind this movement. They come together to say that we are not alone, as long as we talk.

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Transcript

Krystal : My name is Krystal.

Tim: My name is Timothy Cox.

Basant: My name is Basant.

Kayhl: I’m Kayhl Cooper.

Krystal: Text, Talk, Act is a national event. People can participate by using their cell phones.

Tim: Text, Talk, Act is a platform that when you send in one text message, what you get back is the conversation starter.

Krystal: And then they give you all of the questions that can actually start a very excellent conversation on mental health. It's really fantastic because a lot of people might want to talk about mental health, but they don’t know how.

Tim: We keep talking about how we need to have a conversation, and the first conversation between them and someone else who suffers from mental health problems, that really opens their eyes, is the fact that what their dealing with is normal; they’re just dealing with it alone.

Krystal: I got involved in Text, Talk, Act in undergrad at university through Active Minds. Active Minds is predominantly a college-chaptered national organization that works to change your conversation on mental health and reduce the stigma of mental illness. It was something that I became very passionate about once I became aware that there are all of these disparities of mental health, and there are ways that we can help people; we just need to start talking about them.

Basant: I think it comes back to culture and are you in a culture where you can talk to people about your life? And to me, I can look into a culture and see this is very sad, that when a person is grieving the death of someone or they feel very depressed, it's sad to see that the person is in a culture where they feel they can’t talk about that. In a way, they are very isolated and hiding, but at the same time, their neighbors are doing the same thing. They also feel isolated that they can’t share this, and to me, that looks very strange and it's really hard to see people suffering like that. Text, Talk, Act is for this culture where people cannot talk about their natural life. The natural allotted stages in life we go through are very hard emotionally and mentally very draining—very sad and heartbreaking. And why should that be a hidden topic?

Krystal: I come from a family where mental health was always a predominant concern, but it wasn’t something that was really talked about. So when I got into college and I was experiencing mental health concerns, like stress and anxiety, I was afraid to talk to people about it. And I also thought, “This is normal. Other family members have this, so why should I be complaining about my own mental health concerns? But through Active Minds, I was given the courage to actually seek help for my mental health. And it made me passionate because I realized that not all people have the opportunity that I have, to have such great mentors in college, such a great organization that encourages talk about your feelings and what’s going on with your life. So I wanted to try and be that person for somebody else. At least make people think about mental health, so they can try and help somebody else, or at least understand what somebody else is going through.

We just started doing it at my school. I found other people that were really passionate about it, including the advisors and other students, and we just started spreading it. We wanted to do it in classrooms, and we wanted to do it out in our open area quad, to try and get as many students that were passing by involved in it, and tell them, “Hey, this is important. If you can’t do this now, take this card and do it when you get home. Have a conversation with your parents if you’re staying with them, or your boyfriend or your girlfriend, because it's an important conversation to have, and it can really start a conversation that you might not even think it could start, and have really lasting impact on people.”

Text, Talk, Act promotes having a conversation, and you need to have a conversation with people to get them involved in it. You can put flyers here... You can put flyers here...  Can you send out email? Things like that is what was really important for us, but even more so was actual people going up and saying, “Hey, I would like you to have this conversation. This is why it's really important.” The actual one-on-one human communication, “I would—I would like you to have this conversation,” is what I think really played a crucial role in us being able to get people involved. Because you can tell someone over email all day and their email, they can just close it down. But if you’re actually there telling them, ”Hey, this is why this is important, you don’t have to have a mental illness for mental health to be important.” And it's why people have gotten involved. Because they do realize, “Hey, it might not be me who is having the problem right now, but it might be my friend. And being able to communicate and figure out and talk with people about mental health could help me talk with my friend later about it.”

Kayhl: What was really interesting is with each and every single group, as we moved through the discussion, they really were able to open up to each other.

Krystal: I’ve found that people become more empathetic towards the people they are talking with.

Kayhl: They opened up to each other a lot and talked a lot about their experiences.

Krystal: They build really quick relationships because they're talking about something that means something to them.

Kayhl: And I think I learned a lot about everyone else in the room, and how everyone deals with mental health in their own way. And they learned a lot through just talking. That was really enlightening—to see people, when they didn’t have to be talking so sincerely, taking a project so seriously, because I feel like a lot of people are looking for an outlet to talk about mental health, and when they find one, it's probably really nice to be able to get stuff off your chest, just to be able to open that discussion up. It was nice to see a small version of what Text, Talk, Act wants to do as a whole, which is start a conversation on mental health and remove the stigma around talking about it in general.

I think that’s what it all boils down to, that the things in our heads are very important, we just don’t talk about them enough.

Tim: I think the biggest surprise for a lot of people is that they are not alone. And it doesn’t matter how many years Text, Talk, Act has been going on, or any other programs to bring to light mental health, because people keep to themselves, especially, in my opinion, adults. And definitely youth that feel like they don’t have anyone else to talk to. They don’t get that it is something that happens so often, because they don’t talk about it themselves.

And if they just opened their minds to having a conversation with someone about what goes on in their heads—what thoughts they have, what they’re feeling—that other person would likely open up to them and say, “You know, I feel that too; I’ve been here too. I’m going through this right now.” That’s when the conversation starts to happen for people, and that’s when they start to realize they aren’t going through something nobody else goes through; they’re just going through something we all go through, and they're doing it alone."

Kayhl: I think Text, Talk, Act is really important right now because it's so accessible. It's putting a mental health discussion in places that it would have never been before—in schools, in work places, in colleges, among social groups. It's just a very accessible platform to talk about mental health in a way that we never have before, and that we should be doing already. To get things going right now in removing the stigma around mental health. I think everyone can help by being more open about things in general. If you’re having a problem, why not talk about it? If you notice that someone else is having a problem, why don’t you talk to them about it? Once we start that culture of being ok with saying what’s on our mind, I think we are headed in the right direction, and that opens the doors for everything to move in the right direction.

Basant: And with Text, Talk, Act, I think that’s what we are trying to do. Once people have opened up that topic, opened up that door, I’m hoping that comes out of Text, Talk, Act. Really change that flavor in our community where talking about what’s real and what’s painful and hard becomes something that is what you do with people, so we can help each other live better.

 

Sound credits:

Song: Losing Love; Artist: Dexter Britain

Song: Lullaby, Floating In Space, LaDiDay; Artist: Podington Bear

Song: We Call This Home; Artist: Alex Fitch

 

 

March 8, 2016
Issues: 

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