We are a community of people committed to breaking down the shame, isolation and stigma often associated with mental health and replacing it with belonging, hope and solidarity. From the moment of conceiving this idea in August of 2019 we felt three themes would support and achieve our vision – Share Your Story, Wear Your Story and Get Connected. We believe sharing our stories and engaging in others’ experiences would serve to break down isolation, promote hope and diminish shame. The physical and psychological benefits of sharing vulnerably were highlighted in last week’s blog – “The Healing Dilemma.”
We believe wearing our story in the form of a ‘band’ (bracelet) can further the healing process by helping break down stigma while encouraging the feeling of belonging and solidarity. Our goal is to give you a better understanding of what it means to ‘wear your story’ from our perspective as the Band Together Community.
Currently we have three Band Together bracelet colour options representing anxiety, depression and PTSD. Each colour was specifically chosen for its meaning and what it represents. Our goal is to introduce additional colours in the future until everyone feels like they have a Band Together bracelet that represents their mental health story. There are still so many suffering in silence wondering if anyone hears them as they courageously battle bi-polar, schizophrenia, psychosis, and OCD just to name a few. Be patient with us as we grow… we are committed to making sure every person is heard! You can share with us what you’d like to see represented at the bottom of The Colours page.
We also have an ‘Overcomer’ bracelet in all white which represents our collective capacity to overcome challenges and achieve wholeness. The Overcomer bracelet also represents those who are walking with someone else as a sign of solidarity and support. Every Band Together bracelet contains three white beads to represent the strength of our community, and that at the core of each one of us – we are all Overcomers!
Geordy Murphy, a Certified Counsellor with a Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology says the following about the power of the Band Together bracelet;
“Many clients are prone to internalizing problems and saying things about themselves like, ‘I always manage to get things wrong, I’m hopeless, I’m depressed.’ Externalization on the other hand is separating the persons identity from the problem.”
Murphy, who offers online counselling services through iMentalHealth Inc., goes on to say,
“To me, the Band Together bracelet is a good example of externalizing the problem you may have identified with. By making our depression, for example, an object, we make it separate from our being… It can be a symbol of a change in perspective.”
Truthfully, there is no shortage of ‘awareness initiatives’ related to mental health. Opening up the conversation has been effective in encouraging the vulnerability needed to start the journey toward acceptance, recovery and healing.
Unfortunately no amount of awareness or positive thoughts will remedy a broken system.
People still struggle in isolation for the other 364 days of the year where it is not trendy to ‘talk.’ A significant number of people still feel alone as they try to navigate their day to day mental health journey without meaningful connection and professional help. Accessing resources can be expensive, and many people may not be able to afford private counselling services and/or necessary medication. These realities can make it challenging to hold onto hope when overwhelmed by very real problems that never seem to be addressed.
Awareness and positive thinking are appreciated but education on key issues and taking meaningful action is what will create lasting and impactful change.
While the power of wearing your story can have significant impact, we wanted to take it one step further. In order to begin taking action against the problems we mentioned earlier, Band Together Community has committed to giving a portion of the proceeds from each bracelet sold to help people get access to affordable counselling who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it. We are currently developing this program alongside certified counsellors and will be launching it as soon as possible!
Furthermore, we will be introducing a brand new bracelet that anyone will be able to purchase, regardless of their mental health journey, which will have 100% of the proceeds going towards this subsidized counselling program as we Band Together to help those who need it most. Stay tuned..!
When I wear my Band Together for Anxiety bracelet I am reminded of my story. I am reminded I need to take daily steps through self-care, counselling, and fostering meaningful connection to ensure I continue to move forward.
I am also reminded I am an overcomer, my struggle does not define me and that I have a community of people around me who are courageously fighting similar battles – often in silence.
My bracelet is a physical sign of an often invisible reality. I look forward to the day when I am out for a run and pass someone who is also wearing a Band Together bracelet. Maybe we will stop and chat, maybe not, but I trust our spirits will be lifted as we realize we are not alone.
Comment below and tell us what the Band Together bracelet would mean to you! WE BAND TOGETHER!
Bennet. (2018). Externalizing the problem: A technique used in narrative therapy to help clients separate themselves from their problems.