We talk a lot about the conversations we have during the displays. Everywhere we go we hear stories and questions as visitors read the backpacks and explore the event. We hear from people that live close to this issue every day and from people that are just now beginning their journey in learning about mental health. We experience thousands of these interactions and we try to share them with you, but something that happened at this display reminded me of something we haven’t given as much attention to.Towards the end of the display two volunteers approached us. “We thought you should see this,” they said as they handed a post-it note over to us, “someone left this on the table over there.” We had no idea what to expect. The note read:
“I have been contemplating suicide for awhile now. After reading these stories, I made an appointment with Creekside Counseling. Thank you.”
There are so many different ways to begin breaking the silence about mental health, and they don’t have to be huge leaps when you’re just getting started. The subject matter at Send Silence Packing is a very strong and emotional topic, and not everyone can be expected to interact with it the same way. For every person we speak to, there are others that experience the display on their own level, and that is just as important. We never had a chance to personally interact with the visitor that left this note, but they were able to experience it at their own speed and take something incredible away from it.Breaking the silence is a sign of strength, whether it’s immediately opening up to those around you or taking small and steady steps through storytelling, interaction, or learning. This visitor chose to seek the help they needed while not directly interacting with anyone else. Others choose to tell us about their upcoming journey as soon as they start. Some take information to learn at their own pace before taking further action. All of these are fantastic paths, and there’s is no “right way” to begin, or continue, mental health education and awareness. Taking the steps that feel comfortable to you is what is more important—as long as you’re making that choice to move forward.