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Finding Hope with Mental Illness

While mental illness is something that affects both men and women, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the mental illnesses of anxiety and depression are more common in women than they are in men.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Depression is not only the most common women’s
mental health problem, but may be more persistent in women than in men. More research is needed.”

Luckily, there are organizations out there dedicated to supporting those, both women and men, who are suffering from mental illness. Organizations such as To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) dedicate themselves to making sure those affected by mental illness have a support system, and see that they are not alone.

TWLOHA states its mission on its website as the following: “To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also invest directly in treatment and recovery.”

Since its founding in 2006, TWLOHA has responded to 180 thousand messages from people across the globe, traveled over 3 million miles to meet people, and created more than 600 blog posts from people who wanted to share their stories and let others know that they are not alone in their fight. Most
astonishing of all, it has donated $1.5 million “to treatment and recovery and granted funding to 73 unique organizations and counseling practices.”

To think that all of this started because one man, founder Jaime Tworkowski, saw that his friend Renee was in need of help and decided to do something about it. He states in his blog post, “We are only asked to love, to offer hope to the many hopeless. We don’t get to choose all the endings, but we are asked to play the rescuers…We are made to be lovers in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we’re called home.”

In 2012, there was a film made about Tworkowski’s friend Renee and the start of the organization. It was also called To Write Love on Her Arms. The film starred Kat Dennings as Renee and Chad Michael Murray as Tworkowski.

As the story of Tworkowski and Renee illustrates, we never know what those around us are struggling with or what demons they battle within themselves each and everyday. It is important that we recognize that life is different for everyone, and that we need to listen and understand the stories of those around us. Listening and providing support for others in times of hopelessness, in times of struggle, and in times of mental illness are crucial to ensuring that everyone receives a fair chance at life.

No matter what you are going through, you are not alone; there’s always an organization like TWLOHA with someone willing to listen.

To become involved with To Write Love on Her Arms, visit their sitedonateshop, spread awareness, or become an intern.

If you or a loved one you know suffers from depression, please do not hesitate to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

Featured Image by Fernando Mafra on Flickr

Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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