Your story matters and it can be a powerful tool for change. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start, so we've made a list of five key things to consider when speaking out about your experience.
(1) Language is important.
When it comes to mental health, stigma still exists. By sharing your story you're working hard to change that, so avoid using stigmatising language about yourself.
Our partners at See Me, Scotland's Programme to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination) have lots of useful information about stigma.
Depending on your own experiences and on where you want to share your story, you might also want to read the Samaritan’s guidelines on reporting suicide responsibly.
The way you tell your story, and the information you include, will be quite different depending on who you are trying to reach.
As a first step think about your audience. Are you opening up to family or friends for the first time? Or are you contacting someone who can make a difference for you and others with similar experiences?
When you're writing your story, it's helpful to think about why you are reaching out, and what you are looking to achieve.
Is your aim to raise awareness? If so, think about what you wanted people to understand most when it came to your experience, and that's a good place to start.
Do you want the person you're sharing your story with to take action? For example, you might be writing to a decision maker, like your local MSP. If so keep it as brief as you can, and make it clear what you want them to do, why, and how this relates to your experience.
There are many places that you can tell your story. It might be opening up to family and friends over a virtual coffee. Oor you may be looking to speak more publicly about your experience.
There are many of organisations that provide a platform for people with lived experience of mental health problems: find out more about SAMH'S Media volunteer programme. Or look out for other opportunities through local voluntary organisations.
The online world and social media can be effective platforms if you are looking to share your story far and wide, but before you post online keep in mind tip five below.
(5) Share what you feel comfortable with
Whilst we know that sharing real stories can address stigma, create change and help others to open up, it is important to remember that your story belongs to you.
If you feel ready to share your story that is fantastic, but you only have to share what you feel ready to.