Creativity has emerged within the recovery world as an excellent way to help individuals with self-expression, self-understanding, self-identity and even to initiate dialogue towards social change. Digital storytelling is an arts-based process by which participants can create their own autobiographical videos with images and video, background music, and voice overs. Typically two to five minutes in length, digital stories have transformative potential as they can shed light on real people with lived experiences, giving these individuals the opportunity to break through stereotypes. There are a variety of topics that may be shared in a digital story pertaining to mental illness:

  • How a person learned of their mental illness
  • What challenges they endured because of their mental illness
  • Stigmas that caused them difficulty in forming relationships or seeking help
  • How they sought help
  • Pivotal moments of their recovery
  • Their support system
  • Dynamics of their self-identity and self-discovery
  • Advice for others who are going through similar experiences

A 2017 study published in Studies in Social Justice sought to uncover the experiences of individuals in recovery as they utilize digital storytelling. The study involves nine participants ranging in age from 19 to 23 years old, all of whom were diagnosed with psychosis and were asked to create digital stories describing how they manage psychosis in everyday life. There were several takeaways from the study:

  • Participants found it scary to tell their story, with time constraints particularly challenging; however, they noted the positive impact that sharing their story had on them as well as the potential impact that their story could have on others
  • Some participants explained feeling less afraid to share their story with others after the study was completed
  • For one participant, the study encouraged her to write songs about her disorder
  • Participants noted learning more about themselves in the process
  • Several people felt accomplished by the project they created
  • The digital story gave many participants a good feeling to know they could be helping others

As you can see, digital storytelling can play a key role in a person’s healing and journey to recovery. Stories can have a significant impact by connecting people through emotions and lived experiences. If you’re wanting to begin a creative project that could jumpstart your recovery, consider sharing your story with others; it’s a wonderful place to begin.

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