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Five inspiring TED talks on mental health

TED talks are a good place to learn more about mental health, raise your own awareness of mental health challenges, and help end stigma.

Powerful presentations like these give viewers a look at illnesses as experienced by the people who have struggled with them, the perspectives of those who work in the field, and the impact on people who have been affected by others’ struggles in some way.

There are so many worthwhile talks to listen to. Here’s a few to get started with.

1. Lessons from the Mental Hospital, Glennon Doyle Melton

Glennon Doyle Melton talks about how to tell the truth to others when we are “not fine.” The author of the New York Times Bestseller, CARRY ON, WARRIOR, tells her story of binging and purging and calls on all of us to accept ourselves exactly as we are today. “We try to pretend like we’re the people that we think we’re supposed to be. We numb and we hide and we pretend and that pretending does eventually turn into a life of lies,” she says. This is Melton’s story of learning to tell the truth about herself.

College student Cecilia McGough talks openly about her schizophrenia, the hallucinations she sees, her suicide attempt, and the help she eventually received. Her bravery in telling her truth openly is incredibly powerful and inspiring. McGough urges those who need help to get it, no matter what the obstacles. For her, her own mother discouraged her first attempts to seek help. “Don’t let anyone convince you to not get medical help,” she said. “It’s not worth it…Getting medical help was the best decision that I’ve ever made and I am confident that I would not be here today if I didn’t get the proper medical help.”

Jake Tyler is a mental health advocate and vlogger in the UK who talks about living with depression and has developed a large online following. He works to manage his mental health through “exercise, sharing, and the great outdoors” including a 3,000-mile trip across Great Britain.

Vikram Patel’s unique presentation looks at a way that individuals in communities can be trained “to give mental health interventions, empowering ordinary people to care for others.” People with mental illness live shorter lives than those without them, he explains, not just as a result of the illness, but also because of the quality of health care they receive. Of the world’s nearly 450 million people who are affected by mental illness, the vast majority, Patel says, “do not receive the care that we know can transform their lives.”

5. The bridge between suicide and life, Sergeant Kevin Briggs

Sgt. Briggs patrolled the area around the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most heavily targeted sites for suicide attempts, for 23 years as a member of the California Highway Patrol. In this powerful talk, Briggs shares his personal experiences talking to people who are considering suicide. “The collateral damage of suicide affects so many people,” he said. Briggs asked the audience what they would do if a family member, friend or loved one was suicidal. “In my experience, it’s not just the talking that you do, but the listening,” he said. “Listen to understand. Don’t argue, blame, or tell the person you know how they feel, because you probably don’t.”

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