Erin Duffy is a peer specialist and mental health advocate. Her partner Lori Sevigny is a retired registered nurse and considers herself a survivor of psychiatric abuse. Together, Erin and Lori created a community for people who have mental issues so that they could have an avenue to share and discuss anything related to mental health. The community is called Our Stories Our Space. Erin herself realized that a community that is as vital as this was severely lacking in the digital space.
So she set out to create a safe space through a Facebook group for people to be able to tell their stories the way they wanted them to be told. The goal was for people to be able to share their stories without fear of judgment or retaliation. Eventually, the community grew into its own website, along with its own Twitter account and a Facebook page.
Erin and Lori hope to one day write a book recounting the stories of their followers. They also want to share their own stories with others in order to inspire them to do the same. In a short span of time, a little over a month, the community has gained a little over 100 followers and counting. Erin and Lori’s passion for their advocacy also reflects on how they are both very fun and outgoing people. They believe in the community that they have built and want to foster it into something great.
Having lived through the experiences of handling people with mental health issues, Erin and Lori are both definitive authorities regarding the matter. They can easily connect with other individuals due to their experiences. Despite each individual having different experiences with mental health, Erin acknowledges that it is always better to share those experiences since it lightens the load.
When talking with people Erin and Lori make sure to take from their own experiences. They understand and encourage individuals that are still in between their own mental journey. Everyone has a different pace, after all. They also make sure to meet people where they’re at. Several members of their community share their stories through private messages to either Erin or Lori because they have the trust of their community, especially when they’re not ready to share such heavy and personal matters.
Our Stories Our Space is for anyone who identifies with having mental health issues; a diagnosis is not necessary. Anyone is welcome with open arms, as long as they are willing to receive support from others and are also supportive in turn. Erin and Lori understand that there has to be some level of comfort when sharing one’s own mental health experiences, and that is the environment that they want to foster within Our Stories Our Space.
The community they’ve built never discriminates as they accept every diagnosis and mental health issue out there. This isn’t just a community for specific people with specific types of mental illness, it’s for everyone, and everyone is welcome.
To know more about Our Stories Our Space, make sure to visit the official website.