Spotlight on Heart on my sleeve

The heart on my sleeve movement is a social media campaign which has really come to light over the past few weeks in the Australian media. The movement was founded by Mitch Wallis on the belief that we are always told to talk about mental health, and we often tell others this. But often we don't seem to practice what we preach. I know I am personally guilty, but I'm getting better, I tell people it's ok to talk all the time and also encourage those who are struggling to reach out for help but rarely am I able to reach out to my friends and family and tell them what's really going on. 

One reason I started this blog is because I have so much to say but often can't seem to get it out in person, I want to tell people about my experiences and educate people on what it's like to struggle with mental health issues beyond the basic list of symptoms you can find on the internet.  To tell people that its ok to go to therapy and take medication, it's something which is actually pretty brave. I am now working to show a more diverse range of experiences as well. 

So what does this movement involve?

The movement really revolves around sharing your story with mental health - this can be helpful for yourself and being comfortable in talking but can also help others who are struggling or help people to understand what its really like.  It doesn't matter who you are, if you have struggled yourself or are a carer of someone who has, whether it is mild or severe or if you have an official diagnosis or not. 

The movement aims to get people to share their stories in an authentic way, giving people the confidence to be vulnerable and get what they want to say out there. This gives strength to others and leads by example, showing that it really is ok to talk. 

The movement welcomes anyone at any stage in their recovery. It doesn't need to be a story of 'all these things were happening to me and now I'm better than ever'. It is about being honest. It is about being real. It's not about being fixed or recovered, it is about being brave enough to share our experiences even if it isn't all 'sunshine and roses'. Tell people how you have grown and what has been helpful for you so far.

But one thing to remember, it's ok if you're not comfortable with telling your all your Instagram followers about the ins and outs of your mind, but it is also ok if you are.  Maybe you share with one friend - that is still a very courageous move, it can be very hard to reach out. You can say as much or as little as you like, do what feels ok for you and what is safe for you. If you don't have a personal story to share or aren't ready to say it, you can show your support for those who share their stories, showing them that it is brave to show your vulnerabilities.

So, to join the movement - take a selfie of yourself with a heart drawn on your arm, caption with a message of support, share on social media with the hashtag #heartonmysleeve 

Then can we show those struggling in silence that they really aren't alone and it really is ok to talk.

Any information on this blog is not a substitute for professional advice. It is written from personal experience and research only. If you are in crisis, go to your nearest emergency room, call lifeline on 13 11 14 or dial 000. If you live outside Australia, link to worldwide crisis numbers can be found in the sidebar.