In the way that the world works, once you open yourself to something, the universe brings more of it to you. I recently wrote about my decision to start getting more involved in mental health advocacy. I contacted JAMHAN and indicated my willingness to participate in their organisation.
Around the same time that I did that, I spotted something else on Facebook. A campaign called Face Depression, originating out of Barbados, was getting ready to launch in Jamaica. When I looked, they were doing exactly what I had wanted to do a couple years prior — addressing the stigma of mental illness by using a visual campaign of faces and stories. I quickly registered to attend the launch.
The very next day, a friend sent me information on the same campaign because she thought I might be interested. I had to admit I’d already registered. Like I said, the universe conspires sometimes.
So I attended the launch last week Tuesday. Several of the JAMHAN members were part of the local team, as expected, and I was able to meet a few of them and reassert my interest in getting involved. The event itself was a success. They presented the first batch of Jamaican faces and stories, and emphasized the need to face depression together.
Besides an abundance of reference material about depression and statistics, they provided some interactive elements to get people thinking. They asked on one board for you to write what depression means to you. On another, you could stick a post-it with your ideas as to how you could help address the stigma surrounding depression.
Perhaps my favourite thing was they had a booth from Wear Your Label, a clothing brand that invites you to literally wear your label — clothing to create conversations about mental health. They were not actually selling the shirts which you can get online. Instead, you could be a part of their With Love: Letter Writing campaign and write a postcard to someone who might be struggling with mental illness. Each postcard will get shipped with an order from their website. So you could personally reach out to someone across the world and let them know they are not alone and there is hope. What a powerful gesture!
When the keynote speaker, Susan Goffe, asked people to raise their hands if they or someone they knew was affected by depression, every hand in the room went up. This is not surprising in that gathering, but the truth is whether you realize it or not, someone close to you, or even you yourself, is likely affected by depression. Maintaining a stigma around this disease only makes it harder for people to seek treatment and get help.
Several people were moved at the event and indicated they want to share their stories. While I didn’t volunteer that, I remain comfortable with my decision to start becoming more active in mental health advocacy and I left the launch feeling positive, that, indeed, together we can #FaceDepression.