By Hannah Connolly
We've all been there, a shoulder to cry on for friends or the one seeking out support from our communities, friends and family, but who is caring for those doing the caring?
With this in mind, Stefanie launched This Might Help after acting as an everyday mental health carer for the people in her own life. After discovering little help online, she is now on a mission to spread the word about This Might Helps curation of resources.
Identifying that more people than ever before are undertaking caring responsibilities without the infrastructure to navigate the landscape. Built out around three pillars of education, reassurance and discretion in a centralised location available 24/7, This Might Help embodies the notion that more minds are better than one.
A completely free to access and invaluable content hub empowered by the essence of reassurance and paired with peer-to-peer support, cultivating a community of sharing and learning. This Might Help is set to do just that, help, opening the doors to recognising how important it is to be supported whilst supporting others.
Launching the initiative this week, Stefanie Sword-Willaims will be joined by a panel of incredible guest speakers to discuss "How Best To Care For Others." Here we caught up with Stefanie about the launch, the caring gap and the importance of conversation around mental health…
Tell us about This Might Help and where this journey began
Throughout my life, I've supported people who have experienced mental health issues, sexual assault and trauma, and I always struggled to know the right words to say or how to best help them through the process.
When I searched online for guidance, I struggled to find relatable content that comforted or supported carers through the journey, and I found the process of sifting through the internet looking for help emotionally draining and overwhelming.
I asked around to see whether people knew of a company or website that was dedicated to helping supporters on these topics, and no one could name one. This led me to question, where is the support for the supporters?
It was through this lived experience and connecting with others that I decided I wanted to originate a space that anyone could access, at any time of the day, if they needed somewhere to turn to for advice and reassurance.
“I think there are still a lot of stigmas and misconceptions around mental health, which is why I want to do my best to shine a light on real stories and experiences.”
How important is it to provide training, resources and education, and how do we raise awareness?
Behind every person you see struggling is a friend, family member, colleague, peer, boss, or partner trying their best to navigate these topics, but really they are struggling too.
Very often, people who become everyday carers have had no warning or training on what to do next, which can feel really overwhelming and lonely. In some cases, it can actually lead to things like secondary trauma or personally experiencing mental health issues which then affects your ability to support others.
People who become everyday carers need more ongoing support and advice on how to manage the daily highs and lows for the people they are caring for and themselves.
How important is the sharing of experiences to close the support gap?
Something I realised on my journey was although I didn't always want to go into the detail of what I was supporting people with, when I did mention the difficulties of being an everyday carer, people actively wanted to say or share something that could help me.
I'd often have friends send me a podcast episode or book to read with the message 'this might help'. It was this feeling of knowing I had people looking out for me that made me feel less alone in the process and made me want to recreate that for others.
The reality is that everyone knows someone struggling, so rather than search for the answers alone, if we share our collective insights and learnings with each other, we can help people at a much faster rate and remove the pressure of needing to figure it out by yourself.
It also opens up more accessible support; as we know, professional help like therapy is still so inaccessible for many, so if we can provide useful resources to everyday people, we can at least have a baseline understanding of how to help even if it's at a very basic level.
What does mental health awareness month mean to you, and how do we ensure year round visibility?
Mental health month, to me, is about really acknowledging and listening to the things people are experiencing and using this time to commit to more ongoing support.
I think the best way we can maintain visibility is to continue to create spaces and opportunities for people to ask questions, learn from lived experiences and gain new perspectives. We often see brands using mental health month as a marketing tactic, but I would love to see longer-term business commitments both internally and externally that help to challenge stigmas and also offer that safety net of support for all the people affected.
“Mental health month, to me, is about really acknowledging and listening to the things people are experiencing and using this time to commit to more ongoing support.”
Where would you love to see This Might Help in 12 months' time?
For This Might Help, I would love to start a podcast interviewing a mixture of specialists, psychologists and real people to gain more insights on what has best-helped people and what techniques we can implement as supporters.
I think the beauty of a podcast is you can listen to it any time of the day, it's free to access, and it's discrete, which is a big focus for all the content we create. By this time next year, I'd really love to see more focus on carers and providing them with reassurance and tools to be the best supporters they can be.
“Behind every person, you see struggling is a friend, family member, colleague, peer, boss, or partner trying their best to navigate these topics, but really they are struggling too.”
Do you think there are still a lot of misconceptions and stigma around mental health?
Sadly I think there are still a lot of stigmas and misconceptions around mental health, which is why I want to do my best to shine a light on real stories and experiences that provide people with the knowledge they need to really understand the different nuances. Particularly with things like the way people respond to a trauma or an incident that happens in their life.
I think people are so quick to judge and shout about how they would have handled it differently when you really can never know until it happens to you. We need to do more work on explaining to people there is no one size fits all approach and that what works for others may not work for everyone else, and that's okay.
Can you tell us about your upcoming launch panel, How Best To Care For Others?
The theme of the event comes back to the core values of This Might Help, which is asking the questions of how can we be doing better and what could we do more to help those around us? I'm really passionate that I want this community and the resources we share to be actionable, uplifting and provide a sense of hope to people looking after others.
I always knew I wanted it to be a panel event where I brought in other specialists because it's really important that we speak to as many people and experiences as possible. I actually met Dr Romy at a Stack event, and I was fascinated by the work she was doing, especially with loneliness and children. Poonam has been a brilliant friend to me professionally and personally, and her YSM8 energy and guidance have supported me through many highs and lows.
And finally, Nick was actually recommended by someone from the This Might Help, they had recommended Yogeez via our Resource Hub, and I loved all the work I've seen them do for men.
Tickets are free, and we will be having celebration drinks from our sponsors Lillet and Peak Drinks, so please join us on the 18th at Second Home Spitalfields. Claim your spot and RSVP now…
With more people than ever providing everyday care for loved ones, This Might Help, founded by Stefanie Sword-Willaims is the new platform aiming to educate and reassure carers that they are not alone.
By Hannah Connolly
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