We believe everyone has a story to tell. Sharing that story could be more empowering than you realise
Here at Happiful, we have the privilege of talking to, working with, and writing about some truly amazing people. We want to give a shout-out to all of the amazing mental health advocates and counsellors, the influencers and experts, and all of you who have shared your stories, experiences, and words of wisdom with the hope of opening up the conversation around mental health.
The more we write and talk and listen, the easier it gets. We want to share with you some of the most inspiring people who have shared their stories and experiences, and experts who have shared their knowledge and advice to help empower readers everywhere, and support others to embrace a healthier, happier attitude towards mental health.
Kivan Bay | Artist and Writer
In June 2018, Kivan’s Twitter thread ‘Being fat is…’ took the internet by storm. An artist and writer who uses twitter to connect with his audience, share his work, and open up discussions, Kivan’s open, frank conversation around body shaming and fat liberation had many readers relating, while encouraging others to view things from a new light.
Being fat is every act of eating in public becoming a performance, being aware of every eye on you as you chew, trying to guage how much you can get away with leaving on your plate so they think better of you— Kivan, Spider Daddy (he/him) (@KivaBay) June 10, 2018
While we have seen improvements in the ways in which people talk about body types and appearances, body shaming is still rife. If you’ve ever been fat or felt fat, Kivan’s open discussion will ring uncomfortably true. Being fat is still a side of the weight debate that people don’t often open up about or are still widely uncomfortable speaking about due to social stigma.
“I write about fat liberation because as a fat trans man who came out later in life, I’ve experienced a lot of different facets of fat stigma. While I try not to focus too heavily on negative feelings about my body, to deny them is to be dishonest in my work”.
Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson | Artist and Author
In our July 2018 edition of Happiful, we waxed somewhat lyrically about Archie and Tristan’s amazing A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns a pocket-sized graphic novel that, frankly, we think should be required reading for just about everyone. Through their collaboration, genderqueer Archie and cisgender Tristan share their experiences as a non-binary individual in a widely binary world, and as a cisgender individual trying to figure out the rules around what to say, when, and how to fix things when they inevitably slip-up.
Focusing primarily on first-hand experience and direct, simple guidelines and advice, readers can gain an insight into how their everyday use of language and behaviour can have a massive impact on the emotional wellbeing of those around them, and the effects being misgendered can have for non-binary people.
Providing a combination of perspectives, readers from different backgrounds can gain a better insight into a side of things they may never have considered before. If you’ve ever felt unsure about how to explain gender neutral language and its importance to a friend (of it you still aren’t sold on why using ‘they’ instead of ‘he/she’ can be important), Archie and Tristan have written just the book for you.
Bryony Gordon | Writer, Podcaster, and Mental Health Campaigner
Down to earth, relatable, and smile-inducing; if you’ve ever come across Bryony’s Instagram account (or her cheeky cover photo for Happiful’s July 2018 shoot), you’ll know exactly what we mean. Bryony is open, blunt, and refreshing across her work – from her best-selling books, to her presenting on the award-winning Mad World podcast.
Best known for her interview with Prince Harry about his mental health on the debut episode of her podcast, she is also known for championing body positivity (she ran the London Marathon in just her underwear earlier this year), speaking out about sobriety, OCD, and the importance (and liberating feeling) of unapologetically being ourselves.
Natasha Devon | MBA, Mental Health Advocate, Campaigner and Author
You might have heard of Natasha’s petition to get a mental health first aider in every workplace. Or maybe you’ve heard of the Mental Health Media Charter, an initiative she founded (and Happiful are proud signatories of). Or maybe you’ve just heard of her latest in a string of mental health related books, A Beginner’s Guide to Being Mental An A-Z: From Anxiety to Zero F*ks Given. Natasha has a pretty big voice when it comes to mental health.
Sharing advice and insight based on personal experiences with anxiety, panic attacks, medication and therapy, Natasha not only writes about mental health, but she has created a comprehensive set of guidelines that influencers, magazines, blogs, organisations, online publications, newspapers, and more can use to make sure they are reporting and discussing stories in relation to mental health respectfully and helpfully.
Natasha aims to get the media to acknowledge the power language and imagery we share has in shaping social attitudes towards mental health and wellbeing, encouraging other writers to focus on genuinely educating and reducing the stigma around mental illness, rather than perpetuating stereotypes or negative portrayals.
Anna Williamson | Mental Health Ambassador, Author, Life Coach and Counsellor
Perhaps best known for her start as a children’s presenter in her early 20s, Anna has since become a counsellor, life coach, NLP practitioner, and the author of two books: Breaking Mad: The Insiders Guide to Conquering Anxiety and Breaking Mum and Dad: The Insiders Guide to Parenting Anxiety. Drawing on her own experiences with generalised anxiety disorder as well as her expertise as a practising counsellor and life coach, Anna regularly makes TV and radio appearances, helping dispel the myths around mental health and raising awareness for leading mental health charity, Mind.
Laura Dockrill | Author
Based on her experience of visiting hundreds of schools and seeing how many young people bully themselves and others to look a certain way, Laura wanted to create a book to help tackle the huge impact low body confidence can have on teen mental health. Aiming to promote self-love, body-confidence, and body-positivity, Big Bones shows young adult readers that we can be happy and healthy at any size.
“It’s a bit of an apology and a love letter to my younger self as well as a conversation with my younger readers.” Laura explained to us. “I wanted to apologise for being so mean to myself as a 13 year old, so I wrote Big Bones as an endorsement of body positivity, food, confidence, and womanhood. Things I needed to hear when I was 14”.
Juno Dawson | Author
Award-winning author Juno writes about everything from gender identity to addiction. Known for speaking out about mental health and wellbeing for young people as well as media representations of transgender individuals, Juno opened up to us in 2018 about what she feels still needs to change about mental health and transgender voices in the media.
If you’ve yet to read any of Juno’s work, we highly recommend Mind Your Head, a great book for teens about the importance of mental health, and The Gender Games: The Problem With Men and Women, from Someone Who Has Been Both, an award-winning book that looks at how gender is screwing everyone over.
Hope Virgo | Author, Mental Health Campaigner and Ambassador
Author, mental health campaigner, and ambassador for The Shaw Mind Foundation, Hope openly talks about her battle with anorexia and year long admittance to a mental health hospital as a teen. Writing about her emotional journey and relationship with anorexia, Hope shares her experiences through social media, blogging, and her book, Stand Tall Little Girl: Facing Up to Anorexia.
Anna Jezuita | Counsellor and Mindfulness Trainer
An amazing counsellor and mindfulness trainer, Anna is passionate about building up people’s self-confidence and resilience. Anna has shared a number of supportive articles with our online readers, blending together her expertise with compassion and a touch of humour.
Covering topics primarily for families, from how to enjoy being a parent (against the odds) to teen, parent, and family specific guides on how to support transitioning teens. Anna has also written some great articles for our friends at Counselling Directory that help reassure readers whilst providing advice and actionable tips.
Jonny Benjamin | Author and Mental Health Campaigner
First published in May 2018, Jonny’s book, The Stranger On The Bridge: My Journey From Despair To hope depicts his mental health journey from childhood until meeting Neil, a stranger, on Waterloo Bridge, who prevented him from taking his own life in 2008.
Through his writing and a documentary that reunited Jonny and Neil, both have worked towards raising awareness and decreasing the stigma around mental ill health.
There are so many amazing writers, influencers and voices in promoting positivity, mental health, and wellbeing that we haven’t talked about but who are making huge impacts on people’s lives, be it through their writing, their outreach, or their sharing of their personal experiences and stories.
We’d love to hear who you think has made an outstanding contribution to mental or emotional health and wellbeing, be it via books, blogging, social media, or anything in between. Tag us on social media or comment below to share your top wellbeing and mental health writers.
We’re on the lookout for a more diverse range of voices to share their experiences and writing with us at the moment, particularly LGBTQ+ and BAME writers who have a story to share about mental health, social or emotional wellbeing, or self-care. Find out more under our contributor guidelines
If you’ve never written before and just want to get in the spirit of things, National Writing Day have some great prompts and activities to get you started. They’ve also shared their tips on how to get children to enjoy writing.