It’s time to step out of the shadow and talk about mental health issues.
The misconceptions surrounding mental health problems have been sitting in the dark for so long, making it hard for people with mental health issues to actually seek help and openly talk about what they are going through. UK rugby player, Luke Ambler, wanted to shed light on mental health issues by starting the campaign called #ItsOkayToTalk.
Sliver of light
It broke Ambler’s heart when his brother-in-law, Andrew, died of suicide last year. Until now, he and his family are still grieving from the death of their beloved Andy. Due to this heartbreaking experience, it dawned on him that issues about suicide and mental health are hardly talked about in the environment he is living in, so it inspired him to start creating change in hopes of saving people with the same illness as his late brother-in-law.
He started the #ItsOkayToTalk campaign by posting a photo of himself on his social media accounts doing a hand gesture which means ‘okay’. His post was accompanied by the campaign’s hashtag and the growing number of Australian men who have chosen to put an end on their lives. He then encouraged five of his colleagues to post the same thing and nominate more people into spreading the information about mental health and suicide.
Ambler also wanted people to share their innermost thoughts on their battle with a mental health problem along with the post and the hashtag. Soon after, thousands of selfies and encouraging messages have been posted with the #ItsOkayToTalk hashtag and it overwhelmed Luke and his family.
Passing the light of change
Ambler also stated that he doesn’t expect to create a larger impact on the world by just using the online platform for the campaign so together with his friends, he also formed a community of Australian guys who gather weekly to share their thoughts about their mental health troubles and talk about what has been bothering them. The group is called, “The Andy’s Man Club” and its name is an homage to their deceased friend, Andrew.
“The Andy’s Man Club was made to reach out, speak to people, tell them how you’re feeling, and never let it get too bad because it’s okay to talk, and we all go through struggles in life”, he further explained in an interview with The Telegraph.
Moreover, people have appreciated the effort Ambler has been putting into his advocacy. Even some celebrities like Matthew Lewis who played Neville Longbottom on the Harry Potter series and Ricky Gervais who is more known as David Brent from the film called The Office, have supported the campaign by posting about it on their social media accounts, eventually gaining more attention from the public.
Change, in full brightness
Since the creation of the #ItsOkayToTalk campaign together with the weekly club gatherings, it has been making a change in the lives of people who have suicidal thoughts.
He stated that the support the campaign receives from all over the world made him so happy. Most of the messages he got from people of different races stated that they fully support the cause Ambler is trying to spread and they are willing to help him get the message across the world in any way they can.
Meanwhile, Ambler has been doing talks about suicide and mental health all over the United Kingdom together with The Samaritans charity organization. Recently, he discussed the message and goal of the campaign with Prince Charles at a gathering at the Clarence House. According to him, it was a dream to talk to Prince Charles and he was looking forward to making the campaign known globally. The efforts he had been putting for the project was worth it because of the overwhelming support it received from the public.
“It has been phenomenal. It is eight months since we started and not even a year since Andy died. There is still a lot of grieving taking place, but it gives us the strength to keep fighting,” he shared.
Luke Ambler turned his grief into something inspiring which would serve as a step towards changing the lives of people suffering from mental health problems. Join him in his advocacy to help in saving the lives of people who have problems with their mental health. Let them feel that it is definitely okay to talk, to cry and let it all out and most especially, to seek help. Lastly, make them feel that they are human, and as human beings living side by side in this world, everyone needs to stick with each other, for better or for worse.