We’re doing exactly what society has failed to do: talk about mental illness in open and honest ways. Dialogue is a central part of Direct It's mission, and that’s why we’ve compiled tools and resources to help you start to change the perception of mental illness in your own circles. In just five simple steps, you can start a conversation within your family, friends group, organizations, and communities.
1. Find a group.
2. Choose a time and location.
2. Get your facts straight beforehand with our factsheets.
3. Decide on a discussion leader.
4. Discuss. Discuss. Discuss. (with the help of our guides)
5. Share a photo of your #DirectItDialogue with us!
Have questions or concerns? Don't hesitate to contact us for help and assistance as you plan your dialogue!
Here is a list of guidelines that we recommend discussion leaders go over before the start of
When a dialogue creates a comfortable and safe environment, individuals in the discussion might tell their experience with mental illness. It’s important to understand that these stories will be told. Respect everyone’s experience and validate the emotions they are feeling about the topic. By ignoring a person’s story or interrupting their testimony, you belittle their experience. We also recommend taking a look at some of our factsheets and doing research on your own. You can never be too prepared before diving into a conversation.
Factsheets: More factsheets will be released soon. Want to see something specific? Contact Elizabeth.
Only share your story if you’re comfortable
Although these stories help push the conversation, don’t feel forced to share any kind of personal or intimate experience you’re not comfortable with. If asked a question that you don’t feel comfortable answering, don’t be afraid to say, “I’m not comfortable talking about that, but here’s what I am okay with.” You can be real and honest about mental illness without putting yourself in an uncomfortable position.
This guideline pairs tightly with our tip to Be Prepared. When a person is open and honest, it’s important to understand where that person’s story is coming from. Just because your experience is different from another’s, doesn’t take away the validity of their story.
Don’t be afraid of silence
Our society as a whole doesn’t feel comfortable with awkward silence, but we welcome it. When you feel like a pause has turned awkward, let it be. At Direct It, we define silence as a time for people to organize their thoughts and figure out what direction they want to take the conversation. Don’t feel like you have to immediately jump to the next topic prompt.
Don’t listen to respond, Listen to hear
Although we list this last, this guideline is the most important. When participating in a Direct It discussion, don’t spend time formulating what you’re going to say next. Be present in the conversation.
Currently, we have one discussion guide that's meant for community groups, workplaces, or campus organizations. The guide works through questions that look into the state of the mental health conversation within your circles. By the end of the dialogue, you'll have created and accomplished specific goals to create a more honest and open environment.
Also make sure to share your experience with us! Take a photo of your discussion group and tag us on Instagram.