IMAGINING INCLUSION PROGRAMS
Telling Your Story and Being Heard Program
Participants bravely shared their personal experiences of living with mental illness.
The Telling Your Story and Being Heard program was developed because we were inspired by our peer participants. After completing our 10 week Photovoice sessions at the Open Door Group and the Northeast Team, we found that participants found their voices through a process of self-discovery and empowerment. The creation of Telling Your Story and Being Heard was a way to further engage these participants to use their voice and learn about the power of storytelling.
In the spring of 2018, Telling Your Story and Being Heard ran concurrently at both mental health sites. We paired Recreation Therapists with Peer Researchers to deliver the eight-week program that guided participants in writing about an aspect of their mental health journey and giving a speech. The program was adapted at both locations to serve participants’ specific needs.
The end result was a celebration where participants from both locations met for the first time at Open Door Group to give their speeches. Over 25 people working in community mental health came to listen to their clients stand up in front of the room and tell their story.
One by one, each participant gave us a snapshot of their experience living with mental illness. We learned about their struggles, their recovery and their resilience. It was a big day all of the participants who bravely shared their stories and in turn, cheered each other on.
The speeches had a powerful impact on the audience who were amazed by their clients’ vulnerability and courage. Many had worked with their clients for long periods of time, yet through witnessing them speak publicly saw them reach a new level in their healing and advocacy.