Tag: social media

What we learned from the #30Days30Stories project in 2022 

Thirty storytellers shared their stories of struggles with mental health and how they are finding resilience as part of Lost&Found’s 30 Days, 30 Stories project, which was part of National Suicide Prevention Month in September. Here, we reflect on what we learned from the project.

 

1. Finding storytellers was easier than it was in our first year, but challenges remain.

  • From staff members and partners in the mental health profession, we were able to come up with a list of more than 50 names of potential storytellers. “People are waiting to tell their stories; we just have to ask them to do so,” said L&F Community Engagement Manager Joel Kaskinen. “In our second year of this campaign, I found it easier to find people to share their stories, which tells me our communities are more open to sharing and the stigma around mental illness and suicide is decreasing.”
  • While getting stories, photos, and videos from about 20 storytellers from our list of potential storytellers was fairly straightforward, finding the last 10 was more difficult. Some potential storytellers didn’t feel it was the right time to tell their stories. Five people submitted stories, but we were unable to follow up to schedule photos with them. “Recruiting seemed rushed at the end,” said Prevention Programming Specialist Melissa Renes. “I would suggest offering the opportunity year-round and making it more normalized to share instead of requesting stories later in the year.”

 

2. We made improvements in recruiting stories that represent the diversity in our communities.

“I think the attempt to find diverse stories helped show that we were inclusive, and that mental health does not discriminate,” Renes said. “It put faces to the work we are doing.”

  • One significant improvement was telling more stories from the LGBTQIA2S+ community. More than 30 percent of storytellers indicated they are something other than heterosexual (including “prefer not to disclose”). This is important, because surveys (such as this one from the Trevor Project) indicate that LGBTQIA2S+ individuals are at higher risk for suicide. Telling these stories empowers the storytellers and helps to foster understanding empathy and understanding in the rest of society.
  • Our storyteller demographics in terms of race were not yet representative of the state as a whole or of the demographics of suicide in South Dakota. Native Americans make up 8.5 percent of South Dakota residents, and 20 percent of suicides in South Dakota (2012-21) were of Native Americans; just 1, or 3 percent, of our storytellers was Native. We had stories from three additional Native Americans but were unable to connect with them for photos and videos, which suggests we need to work on our process to accommodate people who might have difficulty traveling or taking off from work to meet us for a photo shoot. We hope to be able to connect with some or all of those storytellers for next year’s project.
  • We didn’t have as many stories as we’d hoped from people in our target age group. Sixty percent were in the target age group of 10-34. Forty percent of our storytellers were 35 to 54. We definitely value stories of resilience from people of any age, but it would be nice to have more stories from people who are in our target demographic.
  • While we improved in our gender balance from last year, 70 percent of our storytellers were women. “Young women are the most willing to share their stories,” Kaskinen said. “Women aged 10-34 was also the demographic that we reached most through social media.” We will continue to work to break through the limiting “tough guy” stereotype that men can’t talk about their mental health.

 

3. Storytellers gave a wide variety of resources that helped them find resilience.

“The resources showcased emphasized that when looking at recovery and maintaining positive mental health, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Renes said. The categories of resources suggested were professional mental health care (31 percent), family and friends (20 percent), other strategies (20 percent), support groups (14 percent), educational resources (10 percent) and crisis resources (4 percent). (Most storytellers cited more than one resource.)

  • Storytellers cited professional mental health care (in a variety of forms) most often when they listed resources that had helped them. While it’s wonderful that people have found help through professional services, this makes it that much more important to try to get more people into the mental health profession. There are not enough people to meet the need currently.

 

4. Storytellers shared a message of hope: It is possible to improve mental health.

  • The path from a dark place to a better place varies greatly from person to person, but it often starts with communication. This communication can come from person struggling: Speaking up about what is going on with them, connecting with a resource, or asking for help. But storytellers often welcomed the care of a friend or family member to start the conversation, and they wished more people had voiced their care and concern. “A theme I noticed throughout stories was that people wished more had talked to them, or they would have liked to know more resources were there,” Renes said.

 

The project had an impressive 183,455 impressions across all media! Here are some additional statistics on the reach of the project through the web, social media, and the Great Minds with Lost&Found podcast:

 

This image lists website, social media, and podcast statistics for the 30 Days, 30 Stories campaign, including for the website, podcasts, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. The most impressive stat is total impressions across all media: 183,455.

 

Building resilience, even from a distance.

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In a time of social distancing, when Lost&Found’s staff and chapter members are keeping to our own corners for a while to slow the spread of COVID-19, we’ve ramped up our social media efforts to keep serving young adults and our community at a time when mental health needs are as important as ever.

We’re providing content that’s relevant to this moment: 

  • #Resilience101: Through Instagram, we’re sharing daily tips and helpful ways to remain resilient amidst COVID-19 and every day. Following the American Psychological Association’s definition of “resilience,” we regularly share stories that capture what it means to be resilient today (that’s our handle!) in a variety of ways: physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, and so on. Our favorites will be curated into weekly resilience tips sent to your email in the near future!
  • #CreateCommunity: We are working to create community wherever we may be, whether we are “lost,” “found,” or anywhere in the short distance between. Right now, our focus is on creating community in a world mostly operating online. We’re inviting engagement through our channels, helping people understand what online community means to them and creating opportunities to connect. These community opportunities are driven through our Instagram posts and stories, but also through Facebook live sessions hosted each week on our page with community mental health partners. If you want to access these sessions later, you can find the videos posted on Facebook and YouTube.
  • #Sources4Support: Social distancing doesn’t mean we’re all alone, even if we’re apart. We’re sharing resources to help with needs both related to mental health and otherwise. At a time when our mental health ecosystem partners are banding together to address the rising needs of community members and students around the country, we’re compiling information to create a “one-stop” location to ensure resources are immediately available and accessible to those who need them. These resources are made available through the link in our Instagram bio and soon to be shifted onto our website.
  • #SundayStories: These stories highlight what’s going on in the Lost&Found community. Yes, even in the midst of COVID-19, we have some good and exciting news to share! Keep tabs on our Instagram story on Sunday nights to hear the latest from our board, staff, and chapters, and we’ll also post the videos to Facebook and YouTube on Monday mornings. Start your week with Lost&Found! You won’t be disappointed.
  • #MindfulMinute: Lost&Found’s staff members are sharing their own experience navigating COVID-19 and finding ways to be mindful for a minute in these weekly messages. Every Wednesday morning, our team will share out a practice that helps us stay mindful (and motivated!) and go live for one minute on Instagram to share how we apply that practice in our lives. Videos will be posted to Facebook and YouTube by Wednesday afternoon. Our goal is to make mindfulness approachable and give followers a chance to see our team’s work in action. We hope you’ll join us on Wednesday mornings!

If you haven’t yet connected with Lost&Found on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and YouTube, now would be a great time to do so. If you find the content helpful, please comment and share it with someone in your life who may find it useful right now.

We’re building resilience, even from a distance. More importantly, we want to stay tuned into your needs as you navigate a world flipped upside down from COVID-19. If there is any way we can be helpful to you right now, do not hesitate to reach out to me or our staff. We are here to serve students as they have been displaced, but we recognize our responsibility to serve the greater community facing mental health challenges today and throughout the pandemic.

We are here for you when you need us.

Stay tuned for more updates to come, and we hope we’ll see you online. Thank you for your support and partnership with Lost&Found! It means the world right now.

In service,

Erik Muckey
CEO/Executive Director
Lost&Found

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