Break The Stigma Around Mental Health

30 Day Insta Story Challenge: Complete!

November 6, 2018
30 Day Instagram Story Challenge

At the start of October, I began a 30 Day Insta(gram) Story Challenge to help Break The Stigma around mental health! Each day I showed the prompt and gave my honest answer in order to spread awareness around what it's like to have a mental illness. To my surprise, more than 20 people participated publicly and a handful of other people direct messaged me as the challenge went on to discuss their experiences privately.

Each of the 30 prompts can be found in the original blog post that I wrote at the end of September. I did add a bonus question at the end as I realized there was another answer I wanted to have out there (even if for myself), "what is a message you'd like to leave yourself for the next time you're struggling?" If you'd like to see all 31 days of the challenge, you can watch it as an IGTV episode any time.

Let's take a look at some of these prompts in this recap blog post for the challenge; first, one that stands out to me was on Day 29, "how do we break the stigma around mental health?" The common answer amongst participants was what this challenge was designed for and that is open communication! If we're going to make a difference in the mental health community, we need to get more comfortable talking about mental health, help normalize our experiences!

On Day 25 we were prompted to think about how we can support youth that may be struggling with depression; this one is especially important because, according to the CDC, one of the leading causes of death among teens is suicide. The topic on how to protect our children is an important one and to me, it's important that children feel safe to talk to trusted adults about their experiences or reach out to a friend to talk about their struggles.

Aside from societal/big picture discussions, the first half of the challenge really focused on the individual. It let participants reflect on what they go through and how their support system can help them when they're struggling. We covered questions around what someone experiences, to what kind of ways you can regulate and cope, to the warning signs that your friends and family can keep an eye out for when trying to help you.

I knew this challenge wasn't going to be easy to do, if I'm being honest (and that's what this challenge was intended for - honesty) it was a little draining on me to talk about my mental health/illness daily for the length of a month. Though, I am really glad I did it. I was able to get so much awareness out there and I was able to make new friends along the way. Friends of friends started jumping in and sharing their experiences and commenting on what I shared. My supportive community grew significantly and I can only imagine how helpful that will be for when I start feeling less like myself (as someone that struggles with depression).

Even though the challenge has ended for me, my advocacy around the topic has not. I still continue with the 22 Pushup Challenge daily on my Instagram account (@JMattMke) to spread awareness of the now less than 22 combat veterans that die by suicide each day (the average has lowered to about 20/day). I am also trying to raise money for Mission 22, that supports our veterans that are struggling; my goal is to raise $10,000 for them. If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please don't hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

I welcome you to participate in what's become known as the #BreakTheStigma Challenge at any time and when you start, just do one day at a time - no need to burn through several prompts at one time. The goal is that with each participant, we are spreading the awareness to more and more people; some of which may want to participate too! I would love to see this challenge last through the end of the year.

Along the way, I had a friend ask to do a Facebook Live video and we discussed our experiences with mental illness openly for our shared Facebook audiences. Additionally, I chatted with Riggs about this challenge on his Riggs OFF The Radio Podcast series called MENtal Health Monday, listen to that too!

If you'd like to discuss any of the topics above, please reach out to me on social media at @JMattMke (same handle on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Snapchat)! All Radio.com stations are committed to ending the stigma of talking about mental health. For more information and resources, visit ImListening.org.