Mental Illness Awareness Week | Frank Warren

The World of PostsecretFrank Warren is the most trusted stranger in North America. He is the creator of The PostSecret Project, an ongoing community art project where people from all over the world mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard. There is some big news in the world of PostSecret, including the release of ‘The World of PostSecret’ book. In addition to artful secrets, the book is loaded with full color PostSecret postcards and explores the expanding world of PostSecret with stories, Q & As and other images, including a peek into PostSecret headquarters. Here’s a video overview on the world of PostSecret: PostSecret is also releasing an album comprised of spoken secrets from the PostSecret Live: UK and Ireland Tour, set to music by Independent Music Award-winning composer One Hello World. You can Pre-order it now and get 2 advanced tracks right away. Learn more here. In addition, PostSecret The Show will be playing Vancouver in January 2015.  Inspired by Frank’s, the performance is a visual, auditory and emotional journey through the beauty and complication of our deepest fears, ambitions and confessions. PostSecret will also have an art project featured at the world’s largest museum and research complex The Smithsonian later this year. We’ll keep you posted as updates become available. NSB-Divider Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is an annual public education campaign designed to help open the eyes of citizens to the reality of mental illness. The week was established in 1992 by the Canadian Psychiatric Association and is now coordinated by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) in cooperation with all its member organizations and many other supporters across Canada. In recognition of MIAW, we asked Frank to share his thoughts on some important areas of Mental Health:  

Why is MIAW so important?

One of the reasons the mental wellness conversation is important to me is because when I was younger I had to ask for help myself. I suffered and it took me a long time to find the courage to admit it to myself and others. Now I try to share my story so others will know they are not alone, there is always help, all you have to do is ask.

How do we best overcome the stigma surrounding mental health discussion, as individuals and as a community?

Not that long ago, people would not admit to having cancer, especially breast cancer. People suffering with that disease felt stigmatized. Today, people feel that same shame suffering from mental illness, but things are changing. Young people especially are talking about issues like depression, eating disorders and sexual assault in ways their parents never would. Last year my mother told me for the first time how in college she was sexually assaulted as a student. Finally, after half a century, she found the courage to tell her story. The world is changing. Shame and stigma are no longer keeping us quiet. Tell your story!

What has your processes of recovery taught you?

Through my experience I have learned that some our smallest actions can have the greatest impact on the lives of others. If you notice a friend or family member complaining about being a burden, becoming more withdrawn or feeling trapped make sure they know you are concerned and are always there to listen and help. Perhaps you have done that already and saved a life without even knowing it. It is important to be there for others but also ourselves. If you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or unable to do the things you once enjoyed, it may be time to assess your emotional health. Take a few minutes to complete a free, anonymous online self-assessment. NSB-DividerCheck back all week on the NSBlog for more Mental Health speakers sharing their thoughts on Mental Illness Awareness Week. Previous posts include: Rona Maynard – Mental Health Advocate & Former Editor-in-Chief of Chatelaine