By sharing some of our experiences and speaking out online we can change attitudes towards those of us with mental health problems and end the stigma. Follow these tips to have the biggest impact with your storytelling.

Your story should challenge stigma through educating others of the impact of their words and actions on you. Telling your story can, also, enable others to feeling safer and more secure in both seeking help/support, and being able to voice their challenges. 

- Ian, Time to  Change Champion 

1. Speak from your experience

Anyone can quote statistics - but you are the only person who can share your experiences. 

It can be helpful to share facts and figures to get people to understand the scale of mental health problems, but the most effective way to get people to think differently about them is to share how they affect you.

Be bold and own your story; it is your story and no one can take that away from you.

- Hope, Time to Change Champion

Try to share specific, clear stories that illustrate your experience. That could include: 

  • Times when you've experienced particular symptoms 
  • Particular conversations you've had about mental health
  • Times when you have opened up about your mental health with others 

​Top tip: recalling a specific story is always more powerful than speaking generally, so rather than saying "people always say x about depression", try to tell an anecdote about when a particular person said something negative and how it affected you.

2. Deal with one topic at a time

People reading or watching your content will have limited time and attention, so they're more likely to finish the post if it's concise and focused. Try to make sure each post answers a specific question; if you get  tempted to wander onto another topic, make a note and save it for your next post! 

A good way to test this is, can you come up with a title that clearly describes what's in the content? For example: 

Clear: "What it's really like to experience hallucinations"
Less clear: "My mental health story" 

If you find yourself making content that deals with lots of themes, could you simplify it and break it up into different posts? 

3. Put yourself in your audience's shoes

Think about the change you want your content to achieve.

Try to keep one objective in mind for each piece of content that you make. 

It could be: 

  • I want this post to make someone feel less alone
  • I want to change someone's mind about a particular condition 
  • I want to persuade someone to stop using the phrase 'OCD' flippantly. 

This will help you keep your blog or video as powerful and succinct as it can be. 

4. Use accessible language

Using simple language and explaining any complicated jargon helps to make sure that everyone can take something away from your story. 

Things to watch out for: 

Acronyms like OCD, BPD, CBT
Technical words around mental health - like 'ideation' or 'dysthymia'. 

It's fine to use these terms - just try to make sure that you unpack and explain them. 

Top tip: if you have already explained something in detail in another blog or video, make sure that you link or refer to it so that the reader/viewer can go back and learn more! 

5. Posting for the first time and responses

Don't put pressure on yourself to reach a certain amount of people or to gain likes or responses.

Remember that your story is your own. Only share what you are comfortable sharing and what you are okay with people knowing. By sharing any of it you are helping people to learn about your experience of living with a mental health problem and to change attitudes and end stigma.

The first time you do it make sure you have someone around you to talk to afterwards. It can feel quite adrenaline fueled when you start to share and a bit of an emotional rollercoaster at times. Some days you get lots of engagement and some days you get none, it is important to not take that personally and to get used to the ups and downs.

- Hope, Time to Change Champion

Be careful of measuring the success of your post against the number of likes or comments it generates. Many people read things but never engage with them in this way, your story could still have made a big difference to how they think and behave. 

Remember people may neither hit the like button nor comment on your posts (Or wait a very long time to do so) Do not let this put you off posting. If they have seen it or clicked a link to read it because of the title you have given it, you will have influenced them regardless. A dripping tap has an effect as does a positive message reinforced many times, you sometimes just aren’t there to see its effect.

- Ian, Time to Change Champion