When Jayne Hardy, the founder and CEO of The Blurt Foundation, had the idea to turn the lessons from her bleak battle with depression into an enterprise to help others in the same situation, she could have never predicted the organisation’s success.
With an ever-growing online community and impactful national campaigns, The Blurt Foundation has proved that cyberspace can play an instrumental role in providing effective and authentic mental health support.
What is the Blurt Foundation and what does it do?
Blurt exists to make a difference to anyone who is affected by depression. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and we’re working hard to get that message out there. We raise awareness, provide tools and knowledge to help proactive recovery and challenge the stigma that prevents people reaching out for help. We work closely with medical practitioners, employers, schools and companies to help them understand depression, what it means and how they can support those affected by it.
Why do you think it’s so difficult for people to openly disclose their struggles with depression?
It’s shifting but there’s still very much a societal perception of those with mental ill health which feels into the shame we so often feel when we’re struggling. Depression eats aware at our core too and we feel helpless, hopeless and worthless. Asking for help becomes difficult because we don’t want to burden anyone, aren’t always sure the help will be forthcoming and we don’t want to isolate ourselves any further by scaring our loved ones with details of the things we might be experiencing.
What’s been your proudest achievement with The Blurt Foundation thus far?
There are so many, I’m proud of the community of people who support us and who send words of kindness our way, they also help shape the work we do with their feedback. I’m super proud of the team we have in place, they care so very much about the work we do that makes me emotional just thinking about it.
And I’m also proud of our #whatyoudontsee campaign which went viral during Depression Awareness Week 2016 as we opened the door for so many people to speak about their experiences of depression for the very first time. I really could go on and on, there’s so much to be proud and grateful for.
What, if any, challenges do you face with running The Blurt foundation?
As with everything in life, the challenges never go away. We’re aware that there’s so much more we could do to help, and certainly want to do, but it’s finding a way to finance that work and to deliver it effectively.
And how do you balance the demands of your role with looking after your own mental health?
I get to work with an amazing team which helps tremendously – our work culture allows us to share our personal vulnerabilities with one another and to know that we’ll be supported by the rest of the team – that’s certainly got me through some dark times.
Outside of work, I am surrounded by incredible people too who can foresee when I might be overdoing things a bit and give me a gentle nudge to up the self-care ante.
What goals and long-term plans do you still have for The Blurt Foundation’s future?
We’d like to launch two more peer support networks, to work more closely with GPs and employers, and to re-launch our podcast.
Out of curiosity, if you could do any other career for the day, what would it be and why?
I would love to work in turtle conservation on the Galapagos Islands.
Lastly, what advice would you give to people who also have unconventional business ideas that they are perhaps hesitant to pursue?
If there’s an idea that won’t go away, that gnaws at your stomach and is something that you’re incredibly passionate about – make teeny steps every day towards that. You will make mistakes along the way and it might not all go exactly as you envisage but you’ll learn so much about yourself and probably get to realise a dream you’ve had for a long while.
It’s better to try than to regret not trying.