The rising cases of mental illness in the United States is clearly a cause for alarm. Whether it is depression, an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or PTSD, people battling these conditions are finding it harder and harder to combat them. With the current pandemic haunting communities on a global scale, it is highly likely that a great number of individuals have been added to the statistics of people living with mental illness. With the goal of alleviating the present situation, Our Stories Our Space is offering hope to those who need support and acceptance for their mental health issues.
Data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that mental illnesses are very common in the United States. In 2017, surveys showed that nearly one in every five American adults lives with a mental illness. That is approximately 46.6 million people. The same study reveals that the prevalence of mental illness is higher in women compared to men. It was also identified that young adults with ages ranging from 18–25 had the highest prevalence compared to other age groups in the study.
Our Stories Our Space is a website that provides a platform for stories on mental health to be shared with those who need them most. Co-founders Erin Duffy and Lori Sevigny have worked long enough in the mental health system to know that there is more support needed for people who are battling mental illnesses. They also want to give people a safe and comfortable avenue to share their stories and insights without fear of being judged, rejected, or ostracized. The reality is, a lot of people are still apprehensive about seeking help because of the stigma attached to mental illnesses.
The community intends to reach out to people who are both diagnosed and undiagnosed. Too many people are going through a mental illness that is not addressed appropriately because of denial. When they see that they are not alone in the struggle, that there are others experiencing worse circumstances, they can begin to open up to the idea of seeking help. Additionally, Duffy and Sevigny also want to connect with people who are grieving and undergoing emotional stress, loss, and a major transition in life. Quite often, these life events lead to bigger problems when left unchecked.
Duffy and Sevigny were motivated to establish the website and community after realizing that there are very few support groups available online. By creating a safe haven for people living with mental illness, they are offering an outlet and a means to connect with one another. The rich insights being shared in the stories are very helpful to those who are only beginning to grasp what they are going through. It offers hope to the hopeless, a voice to the voiceless, and a kind space for the unwanted.
The co-founders also intend to use the platform as a way to educate more people about mental health and the importance of living a well-balanced life. In the next few years, Duffy and Sevigny see the group expanding and reaching out to millions even outside of the United States. Creating a book that compiles all the inspiring stories presented on the website is also something that they are eyeing to do in the future.