Mental illness. These two simple words can make those unfamiliar with their exact meaning uncomfortable, which, in turn, makes suffers feel just as uneasy. This is by no means either party’s fault. Due to the lack of proper education on the subject, it has become an umbrella term that easily explains difficult subjects—mental illness has become a sullied phrase. In an effort to remedy this for both suffers and non-suffers alike, Project UROK has set up a webpage for teenagers and young adults.
Jenny Jaffe, a comedy writer who has been plagued by mental illness, causing her to wrestle with suicidal thoughts, founded the project. Thankfully, she has turned her battle into a creative, helping hand that can reach countless individuals, and possibly, even save lives in more than just one sense. People struggling with mental health issues can feel as though they are alone, making it hard to function in everyday life—this is where Project UROK comes in. This project allows anyone to make a video. Through this medium, one can explain his or her relationship with mental illness and offer advice to fellow suffers.
“Project UROK came into being because I’d written an article for xoJane about my experience with exposure therapy for OCD. And, I’ve been a woman on the internet for a long time – I was at College Humor, I worked for MTV, I was a comedy writer – and I know there’s ‘no such thing’ as a positive response on the internet. But it turns out that this article I’d written really struck a nerve, and I’d never seen such positive feedback! It occurred to me that people still aren’t just openly talking about their personal experiences with mental illness in a way that’s not scary, or not overly serious,”Jaffe told TheMary Sue.com.
Jaffe isn’t the only celebrity supporting UROK, Mara Wilson, a New York-based writer and performer, shared a video of her own. In the video she describes herself as an anxious child, and explains that she struggles with depression. In the video, Wilson says, “I wish somebody had told me that it’s okay to be anxious, that you don’t have to fight, in fact fighting, is the thing that makes it worse.”
More and more men and women in the entertainment industry are sharing videos with the project, such as actor Wil Wheaton, who explained the process he went through to be diagnosed with chronic depression. Over the course of the video, he told viewers how he was able to get help and feel better, despite it still being a constant struggle. Wheaton’s video, like many others, has been received with positive comments stating that he was able to aid the commenters in getting help for their own issues.
You don’t have to be a writer, comedian, or actor to share a video. The best part of Project UROK is that anyone can submit a video. If you would like to get involved, but don’t want to do it publicly, UROK has a variety of options. You can donate or help spread the word by following them on social media and sharing their videos.
Project UROK aims to help teens and young adults who are suffering with a disorder they either don’t understand or have to live with after being diagnosed. The project’s website also has a list of resources, such as hotlines and organizations that can help suffers. For more info visit projecturok.org