Many of you may have been watching programmes from the It's A Mad World Season on BBC3, regardless of some of the poor naming decisions (Mad? Broken?). After Diaries of a Broken Mind was aired I could not believe the amount of positive reception that came from the show. People were actually congratulating me for being involved, as opposed to throwing around the kind of words that myself and the other contributors were expecting. I felt as though we had all done a great thing for mental health awareness, but now I had the itch...
After talking with a fellow agoraphobic (James) on Twitter, we came up with an idea that would push this awareness even further. What if everyone could have their stories heard and shared? What if they could all receive that positivity? We wanted to create a Diaries of a Broken Mind style campaign but on a much grander scale. Cheekily pinching the original title of the documentary, Minds Like Ours, we broadcast our idea on Twitter and the response was phenomenal.
"I want to get involved!" was the general consensus from everyone. We quickly set up a Google+ group, then a Facebook group and within 48 hours we had a website live as well as a forum. Our e-mail inbox was running overtime with people wanting to help contribute something to the website. Within four days we had nearly 1,200 unique visits to the website, just through word of mouth. This was going to be something big and beautiful, we could just feel it.
James and I asked everyone to film a little introductory clip for our first video, showing their name, age and the kind of mental health disorder(s) they faced on a daily basis. Everyone responded in record time and by Wednesday (five days after coming up with the idea) we launched our very first video. Within an hour YouTube had put a block on the view count, as it couldn't process the number of views quick enough. We all woke up to over 1,700 views on Thursday morning, not to mention the likes, comments and e-mails. As well as a message from YouTube saying that the views were actually much higher, they just had to process them all individually. They couldn't believe our brand new account could get so many views in 12 hours. Neither could we! How had that many people seen it already? We'd only tweeted about it ourselves.
Twitter! That seemed to be the answer and so thursday morning we set to work, sharing our video with the Twitter World. All of a sudden we received a retweet from Alastair Campbell, then mental health charities such as Mind and Time to Change. Derren Brown sent a tweet out asking his followers to watch the video, then so did Rae Earl (writer of My Mad Fat Diary) and Billie Myers. We were actually being spoken about by some of the most elite people in the mental health world.
As I write this, the e-mails, retweets, views and shares are still going up and up. The group who put together the video are practically bouncing off the walls with pride and positive energy. So, if that was just from one video, what else could we do? Our motto is 'Sharing our stories. Raising awareness' but it is more than that. The incredible feeling you get when you do something wonderful like this, the support from the people around you, telling you to keep going and how proud they are of you, that is what Minds Like Ours is all about.
We know that sharing your story with the world isn't everyone's cup of tea, which is why you can choose how public you want your story to be. You can create video diaries for just the community to see, or make it public and help raise awareness. If you would prefer not to show your face (I know that feeling) then there's also a blog for stories to be shared and a forum to create that real sense of support and community. We want everyone to feel as comfortable as possible and take these things one step at a time.
Before long, we hope that our work can drastically cut out the stigma surrounding mental health by showing people what it's like to truly live it. We're run by people with mental health disorders, for those with mental health disorders. That is what makes us beautiful!
Want to get involved?