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Storytelling Program Continues to Expand
Office of Diversity and Equity

Article Siavash Zohoori

Storytelling can be an incredibly powerful tool in bringing attention to mental health and wellness, while reducing stigma and empowering both storytellers and audiences.

During FY 16-17, The Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) Storytelling developed and published a storytelling framework that defines ODE’s approach and goals, three tenets of powerful storytelling and the theory behind the storytelling program. Parts of this storytelling framework were adapted by the Lived Experience Academy.

Evaluation tools were created to measure the experience of individuals sharing their stories and their growth in terms of empowerment and stigma. ODE Storytelling also developed and published a facilitator packet, which includes all materials needed to facilitate a Photovoice program, alongside a curriculum and facilitation guide.

The Pop-Up Photovoice booth was also developed to empower community members to create Photovoices in five minutes. Clients left feeling healed, and the stories were shown within BHRS and on social media. ODE storytelling supported and facilitated a total of four Photovoice programs and one Digital Storytelling program.

Presenting final projects at community events, such as the AACI hosted health fair, families and clients learned about mental health and were inspired to have more conversations about mental health and substance abuse. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) students reported feeling more competent to work with their clients after relating lessons learned from MHFA to the Photovoice projects shown during their lunch break. Lastly, ODE Storytelling captured stories of youth at the Youth Services Center and shared them with staff to improve services

More info and a collection of stories can be found at www.smchealth.org/stories

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