With more access than ever to share your thoughts and feelings with as many or as little people as you would like. It’s opened a whole new world of opportunity for public figures and advocates.
For me, I am so passionate about raising awareness of mental health and suicide, I like to focus on my own experiences. Not that I am ignoring the many other conditions and issues that need highlighting, I just feel that I can only speak from my own life and thoughts, to be honest with myself and others. It’s a moral that sticks close to my heart, I don’t want to lie or give false or assumed content.
I didn’t always use social media to talk about mental health, I only used it to connect with friends and family as well as current events. However, after my first self-published E-Book was released and I started to plan my charity ball, I noticed the problems and flaws with so-called idols and celebrities – who I did not feel did enough for the ‘small’ people with big and real issues.
I decided after a lack of support that I would create an attack my problem. I would share only real and raw thoughts on mental health, nothing glamorized or romanticised. Just the reality of the life I live, as that is what will help others the most, in my opinion.
Sure enough, people have found they can connect with me and relate to me, I am not an idol or role model of any sort. I feel like I am just a person who is trying to make the best out of my unfortunate life. I am trying to give a real support network and sense of awareness for people like me, who feel alone and ignored. A space for the little people to take our own part of the internet – free of egoism.
I do not by any means want to insult anyone with a platform or a following because we are all human and in charge of our own lives. I do feel like if everyone spoke out about mental health, especially the famous, we could really end the stigma. Unity and knowledge are the best weapons against stigma.
Since my plan to make my community more mental health friendly and the goal to spread as worldwide as possible with my stories and support. I have had contact with varied media, like newspapers, websites, radios, and podcasts.
It is a scary thing for me, I hate public speaking and I struggle with a stranger. I worry constantly that I will mumble, mess my words up and that my words will be twisted to make me look bad. Though I will do anything to help if it will save just that one person.
However, I have found so far, that the handful of media that I have worked with to raise awareness, have been true to my words and have not twisted it at all. They may play on the emotional side but not through false information, though I am still wary that some media can have ulterior motives.
I have learned the following things to best manage an interview with the media:
- Wear something that makes you feel comfortable, you don’t need to dress up but if photos are taken, you don’t want to feel exposed or awkward.
- I like to offer a tea or coffee to break the ice and let them sit down, it gives me time to adjust to the situation and then get stuck into the interview.
- It is important to know that what you say and do is optional, do not say or do anything you don’t like, you can choose to not comment or not take a photo or record a certain part of the conversation.
- If you need time to respond, that is ok, my mind goes blank and I will say that, so I prevent waffling and risking saying something I shouldn’t.
- Be mindful of the people involved, I tend to give few details on my family and focus on my own experience, I always state it is my personal account, which covers others involved who may have conflicting views.
- Share your concerns, if you ask the interviewer to not mention a name, then that is ok, they should respect your wishes.
- Do your research on the media outlet prior to the interview, learn who they are and what their stance is on the news and mental health.
The main thing of all is to be true to yourself, I have found the media has helped me so much in raising awareness and I will still slip up and make mistakes, which is ok. As long as my words are honest and my point is clear, with the media understanding my wishes, then both parties benefit.
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