Cornell Minds Matter recently initiated a new Facebook and Instagram campaign entitled “Any Person, Any Story,” displaying stories told by members of the Cornell community about their struggles with mental health.
Cornell Minds Matter is a student organization that seeks to provide mental health support and aims to foster a “healthy, balanced lifestyle” for the entire Cornell community. They work towards reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness by hosting events like yoga, mental health education and awareness programming.
Weekly posts on the campaign’s Facebook page consist of a short story — about ten sentences long — and a photo to accompany the story. So far, two posts have been created.
In an interview with The Sun, team member Arielle Gordis ’21 explained that the project began during a group meeting discussion, when some members began commenting on how “negative and isolating social media can feel.”
Students concerns’ included the experience of “getting to college and feeling like you have no one, then going on social media and seeing how some people have everyone,” Gordis said.
Gordis explained that the team wanted to make at least “one account where someone can look at a photo and read a caption and think ‘OK, I’m not alone.’” She thought that people in the Cornell community “telling a small part of their story” and describing steps they’ve taken to combat their problems would accomplish this goal.
To Gordis, including a photo with the post makes the story more real and more relatable, but the photo does not necessarily have to show an individual’s face. She said that “if someone wanted to keep their words anonymous, they could.”
Storytellers can post pictures of anything they think accompanies their story, even their shoes, Gordis said, noting that “a story is worth hearing without your face attached.”
When asked what greater impact this campaign could have on the stigma surrounding mental health, Gordis responded that these stories, told by real people, make mental health something “relatable.” In fact, Gordis said that when she first showed one of her friends the campaign, her friend read a story and said, “Oh, that reminds me of something I went through.”
The project hopes to invite more and more members of the Cornell community to feel empowered to tell their stories. Once storytellers begin reaching out to Cornell Minds Matter, eager to participate and share their struggles, Gordis explained, “that’s when we’ll know it’s working.”
Another goal of the campaign is to possibly initiate the creation of a new foundation on campus to provide more readily and easily available support for those struggling with mental illness. Gordis suggested a program where “resident advisors could check in on their residents” to make sure none of them are suffering in isolation and at risk of harming themselves.
Although these are long-term goals, Gordis told us that the campaign hopes to continue uploading stories continuously and indefinitely, looking to spark real, visible change across campus.
“There’s something about actually talking about it out loud,” Gordis said.