What I did when they denied my mental health message

 strong men playing rugby in muddy field

I’ve been writing about mental health for many, many months now.

I’ve been posting about mental health on Twitter for just as many months.

Why do I do this?

Because I believe that I have something to share.

I believe that the time is right for new kinds of mental health messages — the kinds of messages that are inclusive and accessible.

We’ve have had years and years of the old kinds of messages, and they just aren’t working for everyone. I know they’re not working for me.

I’m doing something to change that.

What I want to share is something that happened to me recently — something I never would have done years ago, or even months ago.

I applied to speak at a conference a few months ago. It was a conference about “social justice.”

I wrote up a presentation proposal and called my presentation this:

“We all have mental health issues.”

I eagerly waited for a response from the conference organizers.

They denied my proposal.

But they mentioned in their e-mail that I could get feedback on my submission if I wanted.

Of course I want on feedback!, I thought. Who wouldn’t want to know why they got denied?

So I immediately fired off a response.

A woman sent me her feedback on my proposal and my learning objectives for the presentation. Some of the feedback I agreed with. Some I did not. Like this line:

The title is a bit concerning; may imply that all people struggle with mental health issues. Suggestions would be: “We all must be mental health aware” “Mental Health is for everyone”

Maybe I intentionally wrote the presentation title that way because I wanted it to pique curiosity. Maybe I wanted it to snap people out of “going through the motions.”

But I also wrote it because I believe it. We all do have mental health issues.

Mental health is something we all must navigate in some shape or form.

We have physical health, in our bones and tendons, and we have mental health, in our thoughts and emotions.

It’s as simple as that.

I was pretty disappointed about getting rejected by the conference committee.

And then I heard about another local conference, this one about “cultural awareness.”

I decided to give it another shot.

This time, I reworked my title and learning objectives to fit into the conference’s mission statement.

This time I named my presentation:

Nerve 10: Building a mental health movement in online spaces

It was the same general idea as the other presentation I proposed, but this one had a slightly different name.

I made it more inclusive. I talked about the movement I was building by writing about mental health on the Internet, on my website and on Medium.

My learning objectives focused on how others could get involved and help be change agents to promote this inclusive, accessible mental health message that I endlessly strive to promote.

Again I waited for a response from the conference organizers. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Then, I got the news. An ecstatic yes. They accepted me.

Now I get to run an hour-long seminar. I get to share my mental health experiences and model how others can do what I’m doing.

I’m actually a bit terrified. I would never have done anything like this months ago.

I would never have posted nonstop on Medium months ago.

I would never have met the people I’ve met on Twitter, on Medium, from my website, and in real life — if I never got the courage to just go for it.

Here’s what I want from you

If you have a vision, I want you to go for it.

If the world’s not how you want it to be, I want you to change it yourself.

I’m obsessed about making mental health information accessible to all.

And it’s not because I live with OCD, which I do. It’s because this makes my heart happy.

It’s because I can sense my world changing.

Once I found my vision, the pieces started to assemble themselves to get me where I need to go.

The same can be true for you.