To use personal storytelling and purposeful dialogue to change the narrative of mental health in society.


A society that talks about mental health with the same importance as physical health.

Throughout history, people have viewed mental health differently than the way they look at other illness and wellness. Looking back into Christian history, suicide was seen as sinful and disgraceful (Hecht, 2013). Until 1700, the church referred to suicide as shameful self-murder (Minois, 1999). Although modern society doesn't explicitly punish those with mental illnesses, glimpses of the historical impact are still present in the language we use today. It’s not rare to hear people say the common phrase, “He/She committed suicide.” It’s a structure that’s nearly identical to the crime of murder: “He/she committed murder.” This specific instance of language use is only the tip of the iceberg on how the language used around mental illness can shape the perception of society. 


Direct It is tackling these perceptions by focusing on three issues we believe are at the core of society's stigma:

1) The taboo forced on the topic.

2) The wrong people telling our stories.

3) Incorrect information influencing perceptions.

These points have been advanced by decades of misguided storytelling about mental health, creating a narrative plagued with abundant misperceptions and inaccurate facts. We're actively working to develop a society that talks about mental health in an upfront and unapologetic manner using the same language and tools that we use in physical health through our own personal storytelling and purposeful dialogue. We believe that everyone has a unique story capable of changing lives and beliefs. Throughout the site, you'll find discussion guides, factsheets, and personal testimonies that work together to change how we talk about mental illness in our communities.

(More on Mental Illness in Today's Society)


Print Sources

Hecht, J. M. (2013). Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Minois, G. (2001). History of suicide: Voluntary death in western culture (medicine and culture). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.