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Welcome everyone, to Project I Am Not Ashamed. I created this project for one simple reason: breaking the mental health stigma, one person at a time. I found that creating awareness and education on social media can be effective, but many times we are “preaching to the choir.” To break the stigma, we need to start small and educate the general public by outing ourselves, coming out of hiding and doing this as a team and as a community.
We will do this in a simplistic way. On Saturday, August 18th, 2018 we will go to the streets of our own community with a sign that simply reads “I have (your mental illness) or I am a loved one of someone with (their disorder) and I am not ashamed. Break the Stigma #Project I Am Not Ashamed.” You are more than welcome to go to a nearby town and participate if you would feel more comfortable. Below are some details about this event.
- The event will be held for four hours. You can pick what time you go out to the streets. You are welcome to go out alone, or bring a friend or family member for support.
- You can write the message on cardboard or a box—your choice. Find a highly populated area where you will be able to talk to as many people as you can who are on foot. Simply ask them to read your sign and ask if they would be willing to talk to you for a minute. Reel them in, talk about your illness and what we are trying to accomplish. Mental illness is like cancer in that everyone knows someone who is somehow affected. Educate them on your particular illness.
- We want to spread the word about this event through all social media outlets. If you talk about it on Twitter make sure you include the hashtag #ProjectIAmNotAshamed. Share this page on your Facebook page. Feel free to go to your local radio station or new station. Write your local paper. We are all in charge of marketing this so we can get as many people around the world to participate. As of now I have one news station, one radio station and two newspapers that are going to run stories on this project. We are represented in four states, ten cities and three countries and the number will continue to grow.
- Take photos while you are on the streets. Take selfies with your sign. If you are given consent, take selfies with those you speak to. Post your photos on your social media accounts and if on Twitter again, add the hashtag #ProjectIAmNotAshamed.
- There are many individuals who may not want to out themselves as having an illness and I do understand. But just remember that if we do not put a face and name to mental illness we are only feeding into the stigma. While homeless on the streets of Des Moines, Iowa, I participated in this activity. I received an overwhelming response. I received hugs and some tears. It was life changing. But I do realize this isn’t for everyone.
Finally, this will be an annual event. I look forward to having individuals from all over the world represent the project and spread the word that we are not evil people. We are not bad people. We simply have been, or are currently, sick.
If you are interested in joining this event please contact me via email at: [email protected]. Hit the send message button on the page or send me a direct message on Twitter at @bpdinwaterloo. Let’s break this stigma one person at a time.