Jayne Hardy is the founder and CEO of depression support group Blurt Foundation, and the creator of self-care subscription service BuddyBox. Having suffered severe depression herself, Jayne now helps thousands of others going through similar experiences.
Tell us about BuddyBox, what is it and what was your motivation for creating it?
It was actually in a conversation with our UnLtd grant manager, Julie, that the idea for BuddyBox came about. Julie mentioned that she wished there was a ‘wellbeing’ box that she could send to her daughter who was struggling with depression whilst at university. And so the idea for BuddyBox was born! Our BuddyBox is a monthly subscription box which contains 5 full-sized products with the aim to encourage self-care, and to nourish, comfort and inspire.
Why do you feel self-care is so important?
Many people struggle with self-care as they feel it is a luxury, they feel guilty in putting their needs first and they feel a huge resistance to it.
Our lives are busy and quite often we’re hopping to someone else’s beat. Self-care means stepping back and considering what nourishes you, what helps you to feel more rested, energised and whole. Applying those answers to everyday life then helps you to dig out meaningful time and activities which will aid your wellbeing. Our wellbeing is so super important.
You’re also the founder of depression support group Blurt Foundation – tell us more about that, what made you decide to set it up?
I very much felt, and still feel, the burden of the stigma. The hesitation in speaking aloud about depression. Stigma takes lives and it causes prejudice and fear.
Back in 2011, I felt there was a need for digestible information, for new conversations and a chance to harness peer support. Also, that there was a massive difference in the way physical health and mental health were dealt with – it was much easier for me to say I was unwell with tonsillitis than depression – easier for me to say but also for my friends to hear. I passionately wanted that to change.
Most of Blurt’s activities are focussed online, why was that so important to you?
When I was at my worst with depression, I was very isolated and scared to leave the house. Social media totally helped me to learn about depression, connect to others who understood and also to be more honest about my experiences. It was my lifeline. There’s a massive stigma attached to mental illness but people seem quite comfortable talking about it online, plus there’s the opportunity to ‘lurk’ if you don’t feel ready to speak out about your experiences and take in useful information. It’s accessible to most people too.
You recently ran the hugely successful #whatyoudontsee campaign on social media, can you tell us more about it?
We wanted to do something for Depression Awareness Week and a blog post we’d written on the topic of ‘what you don’t see’, was particularly well-received so we re-shuffled it and turned it into a campaign which exceeded all expectations when it went viral.
The hashtag trended for 4 hours on Twitter on the 18th of April, it was the 4th most talked about topic in the UK at one point and it has been used over 100,000 times on Facebook. Marian Keyes, Jonny Wilkinson and Wentworth Millar all took part and we got blocked by Twitter 4 or 5 times during the week as we earnestly tried to reply to each and every tweet!
What advice do you have for anyone looking for help or support for dealing with depression?
To learn as much as you can about the illness, to reach out for support and to not be too hard on yourself – you are unwell and as such, you will be limited by that until you are feeling better. We have lots of information on our website for those with depression but also for those supporting someone with depression.
- To find about more about the BuddyBox, see www.blurtitout.org/buddybox/