Words by Smiley Team
April is National Stress Awareness Month and the founder of a mental health organisation has opened up about his own struggles and the importance of conversation.
Marco Ricci recently founded Talking Mental Health, an organisation which both curates and creates content and news around mental health, hoping to inform and encourage openness.
Marco originally had the idea for a website when he was in his 20s and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. “I began writing about my mental health, recording what I was learning about myself and sharing it with the world," he says. "It was incredibly freeing for me, although what I really wanted was to know that I wasn’t alone."
He searched for stories like his own, but those he came across were difficult to find.
"I felt like there should be a more well-known platform where people could do exactly what I had done," he says. "It was at that point that I decided to build a website that would allow people to share their mental health stories either attributed to them or anonymously.”
Marco hoped that the site would help people to realise that they were not alone in their mental health struggles, and that they didn’t have to search far and wide for other’s stories.
Talking Mental Health is a team of volunteer researchers and creators, who find and collate the latest mental health headlines from across the UK, as well as creating their own content.
Their own content on their website and social media platforms aims to make ‘mental health more approachable, engaging, and accepted as part of everyday discussion’.
“If you make mental health a more approachable topic, it hopefully means more people engage with the mental health conversation and discuss mental health with their loved ones, friends and colleagues. Outdated stigmas can then begin to be eroded, making it more likely that someone opens up to someone about their own struggles," Marco tells Smiley News.
“Ultimately, the end goal is to reduce the number of lives lost to poor mental health.”
Talking Mental Health is still a young organisation in its early days, but the team has already had an incredible response from people who have been struck by their mission.
They have even had an outpouring of volunteers prepared to give up their time to contribute to the growing team.
Marco is hopeful that their outreach will grow and they can continue to encourage open and productive conversations around mental health.
“I think there’s still so much to be done to tackle mental health stigmas," he says. "In general conversation, from my own experience, mental health still feels like a relatively taboo topic to bring up with anyone who isn’t a close friend.
“I think part of the problem is that, because these stigmas have always been present, we haven’t really been able to practice how to talk to each other about mental health. The conversation needs to change to something better.”
FIND OUT MORE: To find out more about Talking Mental Health, visit their website.
JOIN: You can get involved, join the Talking Mental Health community, and volunteer. Sign up.
If you need somebody to talk to about how you’re feeling, you can call Samaritans for free any time, from any phone, on 116 123. For more urgent mental health support, find a local NHS mental health helpline.