Minds Anonymous – A safe space for sharing mental health stories
Minds Anonymous is the brainchild of 31-year-old Louisa “Wizzi” Magnussen, who has herself successfully battled bipolar and other mental health conditions. The website allows people, for the first time, to share their mental health stories anonymously and read the stories of others. By giving people a voice, it aims to prove that managing mental health is part of being human and end the shame surrounding mental health conditions.
Wizzi, now happy and well, explained how she came up with the idea; “I was interviewed for an article on bipolar and found the process of telling my story incredibly therapeutic. However, I was terrified by the prospect of publishing it under my name as there is still so much stigma surrounding mental health. I worried that I’d never be hired again. I was put on furlough and the name Minds Anonymous came to me. 24 hours later I launched the website to give others a chance to go through the process of telling their stories. By keeping it anonymous, each writer’s identity is protected so it’s a judgement free space where people can be honest without feeling ashamed.”
Minds Anonymous has already had over 3,500 views from 1,200 unique visitors in over 40 countries and numerous stories uploaded, from tales of depression to abuse and psychosis. The stories themselves are compelling and give a first-hand insight into conditions that are widely misunderstood.
Darren Ayres, the Service Manager of the Richmond Fellowship, a group of charities that aim to inspire recovery from mental illness, commented; “Minds Anonymous enables not just those who experience poor mental health a voice, but also provides a platform for professionals like us to step out of the prescribed box of care and truly connect and empower people towards ownership of their recovery. Self empowerment and ownership is the only true way forward towards recovery!”
“Many people learn to manage their conditions and recover, but only if given the tools and understanding they need. Minds Anonymous will help to improve that understanding.”
Keiron Sparrowhawk, MyCognition app
MyCognition, an NHS approved app designed to manage mental health are sponsoring Minds Anonymous with free access to the MyCognitionPRO app for writers. Their founder, Keiron Sparrowhawk agreed; “I think most people will be shocked by the stories. They can make for harrowing reading. However, the overall message is positive. Many people learn to manage their conditions and recover, but only if given the tools and understanding they need. Minds Anonymous will help to improve that understanding.”
Minds Anonymous is hoping that those who struggle with their mental health, the people who support them, professionals and policy makers will all use the site to improve their understanding of this topic. Minds Anonymous would also like to see fiction writers use the website as a research resource to help end the damaging misrepresentation of mental illness in drama.
Sarah Amani of the South of England Early Intervention in Psychosis Programme, who supports the initiative, explained the importance of better-informed portrayal: “The way mental illness is portrayed in drama can be hugely damaging. People who have experienced psychosis, for example, are often portrayed as dangerous and to be feared by others, when in fact most people with a lived experience, as illustrated on the site, are vulnerable during the illness and leading pretty regular lives when they are well. The tendency to vilify people experiencing psychosis only fuels the stigma surrounding mental illness and shame for those with a lived experience. Minds Anonymous contains a range of personal stories, which give insight into the reality of experiencing psychosis and recovery. We believe it will help change attitudes and reduce stigma.”
Mind Anonymous already has a diverse library of stories but is encouraging more contributions by giving free access to the MyCognition app to all authors, plus free artisan chocolate from Alexander Chocolate.
Wizzi concludes: “The stories coming in are incredibly powerful. We’ve heard from sufferers of bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, psychosis and more as well as stories that tackle difficult topics such as suicide, grief, redundancy and being from the LGBTQI+ community. Every story I read helps me understand others a little better and by understanding others we are in a better place to support each another. Writers have fed back that when they write their stories, they feel like they have downloaded some of their anguish and are better able to process their experiences. We also have supporting articles from professionals on the site.”
Minds Anonymous can be found at www.mindsanonymous.com. A full list of sponsors and supporters can be found on the site, together with access to professional help for those currently suffering from mental health conditions.