Friday 22 May 2020

My Snapchat initiative — It’s time to speak up

Adam shares his experience of and reflections on setting up a mental health initiative, a Snapchat “Check-in” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lockdown — it is something we have never experienced before in our lifetime. The virus itself is costing lives, whilst quarantine is having an impact in several other ways. At the end of April, I set up a mental health initiative — and I want to tell you all about it. 

In an attempt to get more people talking about mental health, I released my own ‘check-in’ format, encouraging people to pop up with a certain colour and talk about how they are currently feeling in the midst of this lockdown. With well over 200 people regularly viewing my Snapchat story, this was an idea that I thought could surely take off.

My Snapchat "Check-in" initiative
From what I have seen with different initiatives, more and more people are now seemingly opening up about their mental health, something that has been long overdue. I had the number of people viewing my Snapchat story, I had the right sort of idea and I felt that it was just a waiting game to see who would get involved. 

For anyone wondering why I posted these Snapchat stories at stupid o’clock (1 am), it was purely because people are usually on their own at night, perhaps when they are also most vulnerable. Although going to sleep at 3 am and waking up at 11 am was not everyone’s cup of tea, it was worth it. From having a simple conversation with someone, you can potentially save a life.

Although my “check-in” never really got off the ground, some viewers did take the opportunity to open up. I was honoured that some people who do not even know me trusted me with their stories of struggle. If you open up to someone, they will often be grateful for the trust that you have placed in them. From there, they can often point you in the right direction with advice that could be very useful. Meanwhile, the proportion of people popping up with a red or black circle was also scary. It indeed makes you realise that some people are in bigger danger than you think. 

In the past few years, we have come a long way as a society in speaking out about mental health problems. But the low percentage of people participating has taught me that there is still a long way to go, especially with the unforgiving platform of social media. 

Although #BeKind has been trending after the tragic death of Caroline Flack, many people are still worried about opening up about their mental health issues on social media platforms, fearing unwanted backlashes or unempathetic comments.

Moreover, you never know what someone is going through beneath their everyday facade - mental scars do not often show in a physical form. Bearing this in mind, let’s be kinder to each other. Because not only has the coronavirus created an imminent threat to our physical health, but it has also had a major impact on our mental health. For people who were already suffering mentally before this crisis began, the virus has now become an even bigger obstacle. 

However, this is a hurdle that we can and will overcome. 

It will be a group effort. Everyone needs to play their small part by asking the simplest question: ‘How are you?’ That is how people often start a conversation - and it is so important that we continue to do so. The simple act of asking how people are coping can be a beacon of light to those who are in their darkest moment. 

If you are currently suffering, this is a message for you: Whether it is a friend, family, colleague, or partner—please try to play your part in return and talk to someone you feel comfortable opening up to. At first, I found it difficult to speak out about how I felt because I felt guilty. After a while, the guilt started to fade and problems started to feel lighter. I have come to realise that there is no shame in talking to someone about how you feel. 

By opening up and sharing your story, you may just save your own life and help to save others by giving them the courage to speak out. This old saying is especially relevant now: a problem shared is a problem halved. 

Play your part in this epidemic and help to save lives by speaking out, and in return, providing a listening ear to those who need it most if you have the mental strength to do so.

For more information Student Space is here to make it easier for you to find the support you need during the coronavirus pandemic.

You can find more resources on supporting yourself and supporting a friend on Student Minds Find Support page.  More resources on looking after your wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic here

I'm Adam, a Journalism and Media Production student at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham. Over the past few years, I have written hundreds of articles at both a local and national level - including the Daily Express. As well as writing about mental health, I cover current affairs, sport, politics and education in my quest to serve the general public.

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