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Storytelling in Community — Lifting Up the Voices of People with Lived Experience: Interview with Jennifer Marshall | Episode 67

“Storytelling is the water of human communication…”

(Bayer & Hettinger, 2019, p. 4)

“Neither revolution nor reformation can ultimately change a society, rather you must tell a more powerful tale, one so persuasive that it sweeps away the old myths and becomes the preferred story…”

~Ivan Illich

Our individual narratives are “building blocks” for our collectively shared representations of the past and our projections for the future. When our stories collide and reconcile with one another on an interpersonal level, they start to illuminate the nuances of underlying themes and concerns, especially among marginalized groups like those impacted by mental health conditions, suicide loss and suicidal intensity.

“Even though storytelling is a traditional means of delivering knowledge, wisdom and culture, it has a central role in social movements because it constructs agency, shapes identity and motivates action.” (p. 2, Prasetyo, 2017).

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Community activism is built on a cycle of trust, undergirded by stories. Synergy is achieved by weaving together purpose-driven and authentic voices that together represent a community as a whole. When the collection of stories is shared publicly, the advocates have an easier time enrolling others into the movement. When people listen to stories, communities are formed and pull together. Shared experiences become a profound source of validation and consolidation of learning. We are co-constructed by relationships in the community and the stories that arise as a result.

It is no wonder, then, that a number of collective storytelling initiatives about suicide prevention and mental health promotion have emerged, including “This is My Brave.” In this interview I interview Jennifer Marshall, founder of this nonprofit storytelling organization.

About Jennifer Marshall
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Jennifer Marshall is the co-Founder/Executive Director of This Is My Brave, Inc., the nonprofit platform for individuals to share their story of overcoming mental illness through creative expression. This Is My Brave held its first show in 2014. Since then, the organization has produced 70 shows across the US featuring over 825 individuals who’ve shared their stories on stage in front of a live audience. Jennifer gave a TEDx talk in October of 2016 entitled “Mental Illness: Being Brave Saves Lives.” In June of 2018 Jennifer was awarded the prestigious Clifford W. Beers Award by Mental Health America. In December 2018 Jennifer was named Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine

community, coping, coping skills, Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, empowerment, hope, life skills, mental health, mental illness, mental wellness, new beginnings, recovery, resilience, self-care, Self-compassion, Self-empowerment, suicide, suicide awareness, suicide prevention

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