Storytelling and Mental Health: A Three Pronged Approach

Over the last year I’ve been exploring how storytelling can be used in the healing process and creating wider change, identifying 3 main threads — Personal Storytelling, Collective Storytelling & the Wider Narrative

Campfire storytelling

This summer has been an exciting one, and I’ve got lots of great stuff to share in coming posts.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and exploring further into the art and craft of Storytelling, which I think is key to Ministry of Change.

Storytelling is something I’ve been interested in for a while now, but I’m really starting to understand just how important it is.

I’ve spent the last year traveling around in my little red van sharing my experiences with depression, anxiety and the trials and tribulations I’ve experienced, as well as talking to lots of fascinating people about their own experiences.

At the moment I see three main threads:

Personal storytelling

That is sharing my own story. I find that this is a great way for me to process and reflect on the experiences that I’ve had in relation to depression and anxiety.

Collective Storytelling

I see how important it is to create a space for people to share their personal stories. Through the feedback I’ve had from the people who have shared their story with me (both on the podcast and in private) I think that storytelling has an amazing power to heal. With more and more people sharing their story about mental health, I feel there is a collective power that can slowly start to create a stronger sense of individual and shared realities.

The Wider Narrative

This is the story we are telling and living as a society in general. A key element to Ministry of Change is exploring and uncovering these often hard to see narratives. The ones that are so embedded into our culture and way of living that it is hard to see that they are not the way things necessarily need to be. These narratives underlie our work cultures, family lives, our classrooms, our social activities, our buying habits. Both personal and collective storytelling plays a part in highlighting and creating the possibility of breaking these patterns and allow the process of writing new narratives that address issues such as depression and suicide at their root to emerge.

I think stories and myths from the oral storytelling tradition will also be a key part in this thread, as they are able to convey deep and timeless messages, and access our emotions at a very human level.

I’m excited to continue to tell and collect stories and to go deeper into exploring the art and craft of storytelling.

At the moment I’m in the process of drawing up a curriculum for a self-directed learning journey around the power of storytelling in the field of mental health, and next March I’ve enrolled on a three month Storytelling course at the International School of Storytelling, which I hope will allow me to continue to explore this subject in a way which will deepen my understanding of how I can use storytelling in my work to create real change.

It’s been almost exactly a year since I started this project and I’m as energised as ever to continue my exploration into the world of mental health.

Love

Marcus x

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