Just a few months ago, psychologists and self-confessed social media novices, Jess Slonim and Jarrod White started ‘The Lives of Others’. This project uses the power of first-person storytelling to communicate mental health issues and help reduce the associated stigma.
When chatting about the issue of mental health stigma, Jarrod and Jess noticed a problem in the conversation around mental health.
“Everyone was always talking about raising awareness, and the need to reduce stigma, but not many people were actually having the conversation and sharing the experiences of others with a large audience,” says Jarrod.
“We agreed that the only way to change the conversation was to have it on a larger scale. It was clear to us that many people were itching to share their story with others – it was happening on Facebook and on individual websites, but there weren’t many unifying bodies dedicated to sharing the stories.”
In September The Lives of Others Instagram account had close to 8,500 followers (and since then it’s grown by more than 5000) and Jess believes the reason that it’s doing so well is because human’s connect to people’s stories compared to other types of information.
“By focusing on the unique experience of an individual, we are valuing the specific and rejecting generalisations,” she says. “When there is a clear voice behind a story, that story becomes humanised and others can connect to the person behind the experience.”