According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2001, one in four people would experience a mental health issue, and less than a third of these people would seek the help that they need.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the US, so we would like to take moment to talk more about it and to help others reach out and speak out.
The first time I openly spoke about my personal struggles with mental wellness was with the mic and a full audience at WordCamp Cape Town 2016. It was not easy to do, and that is exactly what raising awareness is trying to do; make it easier for people to speak up and reach out.
It was also at WordCamp Cape Town 2016, that I spontaneously decided to add a hashtag to the bottom of all of my slides called #WPHugs. I didn’t know what to expect from the talk – a non-tech talk at a tech event. But, WordPress has never just been a technology, WordPress is it’s community.
Many people came to me during breaks and during the after party and opened up about their own struggles. Many saying they wished that they were brave enough to speak to their bosses or colleagues or employees about it. I want to help make speaking out less of a bravery; and more akin to the ease at which we admit to others that we are cold in winter.
I went through one of my most difficult struggles in February this year, I had fallen, and it was largely the WordPress community that I have grown into, locally and internationally, that have been helping me with the lifting up.
I could not leave WPHugs to simply be a #hashtag. WPHugs for WordPress is now a full project that began early May, and is volunteer driven, just like WordPress. It aims to offer a supportive and educative platform to raise awareness about mental health and make it easier for everyone to never reach the darkness of not knowing or feeling alone, it’s a community by the community for the community.
The future of WPHugs sees it having regular essays written by other WordPress friends as well as created a repository of resources and supporters of the WPHugs initiative. Currently all discussions happen in Slack. WPHugs Slack has many members from around the world and our local WordPress South Africa Slack has a #wphugs channel.
Let us come together to remove the stigma of mental health issues – The WordPress Way.