HOW I CREATED AN ONLINE COMMUNITY TO ADDRESS THE STIGMA OF MENTAL HEALTH

AFTER BATTLING WITH DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY, EMMA COLLICOTT FOUNDED ECBC MANCHESTER TO PROVIDE A PLATFORM FOR PEOPLE TO SPEAK ABOUT their mental health.

Written By Emma Collicott

“Growing up, I was never educated about mental health and living with a mental illness. I acknowledged that sometimes people felt sad and that suicide existed. It wasn’t until my university years when friends of mine talked about depression and their anti-depressant medication that I really started to think about it. 

I’m ashamed to say at times I really didn’t understand why people wouldn’t just ‘get better’. I was ill-informed and ill-educated. I didn’t understand why my friends couldn’t just leave the house or why they suddenly felt nervous about going out. 

Then in summer 2016, my depression was triggered by a personal grievance and suddenly I felt myself drawn inwards. At first, I blamed it on my career, but after changing my job, moving back to Manchester and ending a relationship…I still felt numb. 

I was withdrawn, struggled talking to friends I had known for years and felt exhausted with no motivation. At the time I couldn’t see it, but now looking back, the signs of depression and anxiety were present.

After seeking professional help, I began to understand what I was going through and how I could help. Self-focused counselling allowed me to comprehend why I was retreating from the world and what I could do to start rebuilding my relationship with myself. 

I wanted to help others like me. Perhaps those who couldn’t bring themselves to receive counselling or someone who felt isolated. So, I started a Facebook group, which then developed into an online book club, a blog and is currently a huge part of my life. We have created an amazing online mental health community of like-minded people.

ECBC Manchester has become something I never imagined; we receive countless messages in response to our blogs and online content. We network with an amazing range of companies and individuals (just like The Blurred Line Group) who, just like us, want to help those living with a mental illness. 

My mental health has been up-and-down over the past year, but ECBC Manchester is always there to remind me the importance of being transparent and speaking-up. I share about living with a mental illness openly now and encourage others to do so. There is such an amazing sensation about reading someone else’s words and realising that this is what you have been feeling all along.”

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