“Getting better at getting better”: How Sharing Mental Health Stories Can Shape Young People’s Wellbeing

Abstract

Sharing lived-experience of mental ill-health is increasingly recognised as a promising youth mental health intervention. batyr is a preventative mental health organization that trains young people to share their story of mental ill-health safely through a speaker development program. This qualitative study aimed to understand how the role of batyr speakers shapes individual wellbeing, help-seeking behaviour, and stigma as well as how young people talk about mental health within their social circles. Data was collected using in-depth semi-structured interviews with 18 batyr speakers (age 18–35 years). Thematic analysis revealed five themes: Getting better at getting better, Growing towards self-acceptance, Breaking the wall by talking about mental health, Increasing connectedness and Reaching out for support. The participants reported overall improved wellbeing, as a result of increased confidence, greater self-awareness, and an increased ability to talk safely about their mental illness. Findings suggested that the program led to a reduction of self-stigma and stigma.

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Correspondence to Genesis Lindstrom.

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Lindstrom, G., Sofija, E. & Riley, T. “Getting better at getting better”: How Sharing Mental Health Stories Can Shape Young People’s Wellbeing. Community Ment Health J (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-021-00786-w

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Keywords

  • Disclosure
  • Mental health
  • Stigma
  • Help-seeking
  • Young people
  • Storytelling