June 17, 2021
There isn’t a face or a look to mental health and it has its own trajectory.
I was struggling silently myself. I wasn’t able to get help until two of my closest friends were lost to suicide.
Far too many are taking their own lives and we all deserve a life of fulfillment and joy. That’s why my Mom and I started the Yellow Tulip Project; to normalize the conversation surrounding mental illness.
The subject is often swept under the rug. It’s taboo. But these hard conversations are necessary so those who have deep and heavy thoughts can vocalize them and get the help they need. We should be able to say the statement without fear or judgement, “I am not well and I need help,” and have confidence it will be heard so that help can be delivered.
During my own feelings of sadness, grief and confusion, I found small glimmers of hope and goodness which inspired me to continue to get help and spread word to others so they too can get help. While it’s challenging to be vulnerable, it's incredibly brave and can be so healing. I’m happy, healthy and hopeful, but I still struggle. I think people see me and think I’m a beacon of joy and goodness, and I’m happy I can be that. However, I want people to understand that people can experience immense joy while simultaneously living with a mental illness and vice versa. There’s no look to mental health.
We started the “I Am More: Facing Stigma Exhibit” to showcase black and white profiles of individuals who aren’t defined by their mental illness and struggles. They share 5 or 6 things about themselves to express how they choose to be seen. This is a traveling exhibit which travels to schools, community centers and art galleries. Currently we have a semi-permanent exhibit at Logan Airport. We also offer a storytellers and speakers program where brave mental health warriors team up to share their stories to change the world.
When we got our status as an official non-profit, it was so exciting. The name Yellow Tulip Project honors my two friends' favorite color and flower, which ironically symbolizes hope. They helped me find my fire and internal power. I’ve always wanted to find a way to help people and make a difference. This created an immediate purpose. The day we had our first hope day ceremony, and those who’ve shared personal moments, proved that what we were doing was real. We could, and would, start helping heal communities, save lives and give the help people need.
When communities come together to showcase hope, it helps support our mission. When we hear things like, “this saved my life,” or “this project helped me talk to my parents and helped me get the help I needed,” we know that what we’re doing is making an impact and a difference and the legacy of my two friends can continue on and heal people.
- Julia Hansen, Founder of The Yellow Tulip Project
Want to be a storyteller and change the world? Sign up by June 25th for the four week course that will go live this summer beginning on July 5th - August 1. Learn more here: https://bit.ly/3x87FR0