Have you ever thought that you’re the only one suffering through a problem that no one else understands? It’s frighteningly easy to feel alone in this world, that there is no hope to better the situation.You feel like you are the only one agonizing and you just don’t know why. What we fail to recognize is that everybody goes through similar moments of hopelessness and panic and we just can’t always see it on the outside.
“Stand If…” is a powerful group activity that truly demonstrates the universality of struggle, but also the overwhelming amount of hope that resides within groups of people. It is a simple yes or no test, really. One person will say a general statement, and if it applies to you, you stand. If it doesn’t, you remain sitting. You can also indicate by raising your hand (like in the photo), or basically any way that will let others around you know that you identify with the statement. In You Mean More, we based the questions around the issues we are hoping to address. We begin slowly, “Stand if you or someone you know or love has ever felt helpless.” We build; “Stand if you or someone you know or love has ever experienced symptoms of depression.” It continues; “Stand if you or someone you know or love has ever committed suicide.” The questions change. “Stand if you or someone you know or love has reached out for help in times of sadness and hopelessness.” “Stand if you have been the person to reach out for help, or have been the person someone has reached out to.” The momentum picks up as the questions prod, “Stand if you felt good because you reached out, or were able to help someone in need.” “Stand if you are willing to fight the negative stigma surrounding mental health and suicide.” “Stand if you have hope.” By this point, most, if not all, are standing.
As we stand, or sit, and look around, we see that most people are connected to these questions. It is not intimidating and exposing because you don’t have to specify who has dealt with these issues be it yourself, a loved one, or an acquaintance; however, it is incredible to see how many people these issues actually affect. Nobody wants to stand alone to discuss an issue deemed “taboo” in so much of society, but as a collective we have the power to break through stereotypes and bring attention to the real issues at large. Everybody in the room has hope that one day the negativity surrounding mental health and suicide will be erased.
“Stand If…” serves as a remember that you are never alone. There are always people who will understand and who will gladly be your support system or offer a wise word of advice as they have been through a similar situation themselves. One day we will be able to talk about mental health and suicide without fear of being judged, because what this community truly needs is support.