Guiding Questions for Personal Stories

While writing your story, try to incorporate some of the following key messages:

  1. There is always hope – people do and have recovered from mental health problems and illnesses
  2. We are not defined by our mental health problem or illnesses
  3. People living with mental health problems or illnesses can lead successful and happy lives
  4. Everyone in society today has the potential to take steps to reduce stigma.
  • Who are you?
    • Brief background – you may choose to remain anonymous
    • You are welcome to write from a third person narrative 
  • How are you affected by mental health problems?
    • Outline your issues and position/objective of sharing your story
  • What factors do you think were associated with your mental health problems or mental illness?
  • What was your life like before the onset of your mental health problem or mental illness: (Education, work, hobbies, relationships, etc.) 
  • What effect did your mental health problem or mental illness have on your life? (Education, work, relationships, family, spiritual beliefs, attitude toward life, etc.)
  • What happened before/after you received the help you needed?
  • What was it like having your first symptoms? What made you decide to get help?
  • How did your family and friends respond to your mental health problem or mental illness? How would you have liked them to respond?
  • What was helpful in supporting your work toward recovery?
  • How are you different today?
    • What have you learned throughout this progress?
  • What were the challenges you faced/are the challenges others face when living with mental health issues?
  • What are your suggestions for people with mental health issues or their peers? 
  • What are your coping strategies? How do you manage your mental health problem or mental illness?
  • What do you believe society can do to eliminate stigma?


When writing your story, you should not use the real names of family or friends, individual mental health workers, organizations or others. Instead, use titles such as my “friend,” “brother,” “nurse,” “doctor.” You should avoid publicly criticizing an individual or organization by name if you had a bad experience under their care or in their company. It is okay to talk about your experiences, but don’t identify specific individuals or organizations