Invisible Mental Health: The Power of Community

Created by mother and son Michelle and Ty Strawford, Invisible Mental Health is focused on building a community to support those who suffer from mental illness.

“Invisible Mental Health started just about a year ago when I ended up in the emergency room due to my own battle with mental health. Quickly after that, I knew I wanted to do something for people like me who didn’t feel seen,” says Ty Strawford.

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“We felt that Ty’s disease was very invisible. Both from his side where he felt that no one could see how hard he was suffering, and from our side and our family's side that lived day-to-day with him and didn’t know what he was going through,” says Michelle.

Michelle and Ty used their experience to decide that they needed to help people going through what they did. They left that hospital with a plan to bring more awareness to mental health issues. “We really wanted to create a supportive community. Not just for people who suffer, but those who walk alongside them. Who feel they don’t know what to do or how to support those struggling,” Michelle says.

Just a few months later they were hosting their first ever WE SEE YOU event at Local Market YQR that included 4 guest speakers ready to share their mental health journey. “They talk about what they’ve been through and what strategies and coping mechanisms have worked for them,” says Ty. “It’s really just a space for people to come together and listen and learn about mental health. Even for people that don’t struggle with it themselves, most people know someone who is so it’s a great place to come get some insight.”

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Michelle says, “I think the most powerful thing about our event is the power of community and just knowing everyone in the room knows someone, whether it’s themselves or someone else, who is suffering. All together, we want it to be a better place.”

“If we can keep one person here one day longer, then we’ve made a difference. We just want people to know they’re not alone,” says Michelle.

Ty and Michelle both agree social media plays a huge role in the mental health struggles people face. “I think the main issue with today's social media world is unhealthy comparisons,” says Ty. “Off the internet, your group is so small. Once you go online, your world is opened up to all kinds of people to compare yourself to. Social media takes everything to a huge level of comparison.”

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“I think we can all work on improving the social media world by focusing more on what’s real in your life. Like your day to day. What you’re going through. I feel like people should be more comfortable with what isn’t just a highlight reel because there’s so much more to people’s life than a vacation or a new car. It would help people see that everyone doesn’t have perfect lives,” says Ty.

“As much as social media can be dangerous and hurtful, it can also be such a great tool to connect people and to help people in times of struggle. We would not be able to do it without social media,” says Michelle.

Ty mentioned social media is where people spend a lot of their time so it’s been a great tool to reach people. “We would not be able to gather if it wasn’t for our social community. The sales of our merch, the communication of events, the sharing of our strong messages that Ty creates, it’s all happening online,” says Michelle.

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The next WE SEE YOU Community Series event is happening September 26 at Local Market YQR, you can purchase your ticket here. Be sure to follow along with them on Instagram too.

On behalf of SaskTel Be Kind Online, we encourage you to remember everyone online is a person with feelings. Let’s treat others with kindness so social media can be a safe place for everyone.

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