#KnowYourCommunity: Our Stories Matter

#KnowYourCommunity is an ECBC campaign that hopes to raise awareness of groups/charities/organisations/people that help those living with a mental illness and empowering others.

ECBC spoke to Bailey, a student based in Manchester, about how they set up their own organisation Our Stories Matter to help those living with a mental illness in and around Manchester.

My name is Bailey (yes like the alcoholic beverage) I am 21 and based in Manchester! I am in the final year of my degree at Manchester School of Art. I have suffered from depression and anxiety for many years and I never expected to make it to university. So i’m still in shock that I’m about to graduate in a few months.(Very scared about the future tho)

I started ‘Our Stories Matter’ last year, I was coming off my anxiety medication I had been on for over three years and I was struggling to keep up with my work at university. 

I was uninspired and I was creating work I wasn’t passionate about, I always wanted to create work that made a difference in my life or helped others. While coming off my medication I found that talking about my journey and symptoms with other people who had similar yet very different mental health journeys helped me tremendously. I didn’t want to talk to a professional but people who have struggled like me.

Obviously its very personal to talk about mental health so I began working on a online platform based on sharing experiences while having the option to remain anonymous and share as much or as little as you feel comfortable. I also wanted to use my design skills to make the resource visually unique, not filling the web pages with overwhelming text and information, instead incorporating illustrations and graphics into the stories. 

My experience with professional help is obviously unique but personally I received minimal support from my doctor (when i found the courage to seek help.) I was handed a packet of tablets and a business card to speak to a therapist (which at the time i was too anxious to contact). I never received any further support to help me reach out for therapy. Personally I would have liked more support on receiving therapy and wish their was a larger encouragement to get people to talk about & be honest about their struggles.

There’s so much I want to achieve with our stories matter! In a ideal world I’d be able to make it a real organisation and grow professionally but at the moment I’m happy with it being a passion project. I want to work on outreach in the Manchester area, organising workshops, discussions and working with other mental health advocacy individuals and organisations. 

I want to expand on the resources I provide on my website, creating more (free) printable self care materials, daily plans, self care challenges ETC. 

I am also organising a mental health positivity exhibition that will be taking place this month! So keep an eye on our Instagram page.

Our Stories Matter also has an etsy page where they sell lovely self-care items.

Thank you Bailey for sharing your story and joining in on our #knowyourcommunity campaign.