News Monday, May 16th Words by: Sasha Toonder

Stand Up, Speak Out: how I'm using Instagram to be positive about mental health

News Monday, May 16th

Stand Up, Speak Out: how I'm using Instagram to be positive about mental health

For a lot of people the words ‘mental health’ come with fearful assumptions, negative experiences and painful memories.

I don’t disagree with that but I do believe amazing things can come out of the worst things. 

I think going through life with the knowledge that you have beaten a mental health illness or that you finally feel in control of your mental health, can get you through a lot of things. Things that might have once fazed you now pale in comparison to what you have already achieved. I feel it’s momentous.

With mental health we all have our mental list of things that went wrong - things we fixate on and wish had gone differently, as a negative reaction will stay with you longer than no reaction. But I believe these lists fade or at least lose their significance when we focus on the positive and give more power to the times when things went right.

There's a lot of focus on mental health prevention but I want my campaign to focus on reflection. I believe reflection is vital not only for yourself but for others who need to know that it does get better.

I want people to share what their better is. Whether it was the doctor who took them seriously, the friend who stayed up every night with them, the job they got helping other people when their recovery became noticeable, or when their scars started to heal.

"We still have a long way to go until the services are better, until treatment is non-judgemental and right"

I want people to share as little or as much as they want, because you can never predict the significance of your experience to someone else’s recovery.

In my worst days my parents would reassure me something good would come out of the bad I was going through. I hated this notion as it was impossible to see. But over time the good has become so apparent and dominant. I will never be done being thankful. The family, friends, doctors, and counsellors who refused to give up on me even when I begged them to.

Everyone who's had mental health problems probably has at least one horrific experience they carry with them and I don’t want to downplay that. We still have a long way to go until the services are better, until treatment is non-judgemental and right.

But I do want people to acknowledge that mental health problems and illnesses are not weights attached to you, and in the long run they do not slow or drag you down. You are not branded, not permanently damaged or broken. There are so many positives that can come from a negative, people have to adjust their perspective to see it.

It's easy to find and get lost in false support. I want stand up, speak out, to be honest and effective. Advice and happiness from people who once felt the exact same as the reader in distress. I hope my campaign builds momentum and grows to other platforms, I hope lots of people of all ages get involved, and above all else I hope it helps the people who really just need hope.

By Sasha Toonder

18-year-old Sasha Toonder, founder of the Stand Up, Speak Out mental health campaign.

Stand Up, Speak Out 

Sasha Toonder's struggle with mental health isn’t uncommon.

Around 1 in 10 young people aged five to 16 suffer from a 'clinically diagnosable' mental health condition. 70% of them aren't offered appropriate intervention at an early age.

A few years ago, Sasha was battered and bruised by anxiety and feelings of hopelessness - her school attendance dropped, she was angry and unhappy.

Slowly, with the support of family and Herefordshire's CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service), things changed. Sasha, who is bright, upbeat and articulate, is now 18, studying at the Hereford College of the Arts and working with theCLD Trust, the Hereford-based youth counselling charity.

Her #StandUpSpeakOutMH campaign launches on Instagram today. Coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Week, it encourages people to share positive experiences around mental health. She is using her own experience to fuel the campaign fire, spreading the word that it does get better.

Search #StandUpSpeakOutMH or visit


"If I can find one positive that can come from mental health issues, it's having a greater sense of appreciation for the good in life. Times may seem so painful and endless, with that hopeless feeling that nothing will ever get better - but it's often after these downfalls and dark nights that we start to appreciate the positive things that are too often belittled and ignored. This could be a friend, family member or maybe just waking up in the morning with a smile on your face. It's different for us all. Whether you find these good aspects of life through religion, therapy or maybe even the karmic forces of the universe; showing some love and shining some light on the things you are grateful for can only lead to good. We're too often our own worst enemy, sometimes all we need to do is show ourselves and others a simple sign or gesture of thankfulness." #MHAW16 #thishelpsmh #thinkpositive #thankful #standupspeakoutmh

A photo posted by StandUpSpeakOut (@standupspeakoutmh) on


"Sitting down with coffee and cake, to talk things over with a friend" #thishelps #MHAW16 #standupspeakoutmh

A photo posted by StandUpSpeakOut (@standupspeakoutmh) on



-Part 1- "I'd hated myself my whole life. Well, since I came to terms with how strong the word ‘hate’ is and a reflection upon who I am. For the most part, it was my own fault. I viewed things in a negative manner, I saw the bad before the good, I avoided situations, people, life. I am a hopeless human being and I might always see myself in that way. But recently I had some help to change my attitude and way of thinking. I tried blocking out this help and believed that it didn’t work, but I was wrong and stupid to have thought this. It was almost as if I didn’t want aid, like I just wanted to fall into oblivion and accept that this is who I am and this is who I will continue to be until the inevitable occurs. But that was my view. I never acknowledged other people’s real opinions. I continuously believed I was being judged and I generalised humanity into one big group and claimed I hated them all. We are the only ones who see ourselves in this negative light. Constantly putting ourselves down because we believe this is what people think of us. I hated my appearance and shy awkwardness so much, I concluded that people were staring at me, laughing at me, judging me. But they’re not." #MHAW16 #nostigma #standupspeakoutmh

A photo posted by StandUpSpeakOut (@standupspeakoutmh) on


"I had a very positive experience when I visited my GP after suffering from panic attacks. I felt that he dealt with this very well was because he got me to hyperventilate whilst I was with him to bring on some of the feelings associated with panic attacks so that he was able to demonstrate that this is what was happening to me as before this I felt very scared about what was happening. He then taught me breathing techniques to reduce those feelings that I was experiencing and gave me some information about what causes panic attacks and how to control them. From this I have successfully managed to significantly reduce the amount of panic attacks that I have by being taught to recognise what causes them and by learning how I can use the breathing techniques that I was taught to help to control them"

For more on Mental Health Awareness Week (May 16 -22), visit

The CLD Trust, based in Offa Street, Hereford, is a counselling service. The charity offers counselling in schools, colleges and businesses. To find out more visit or contact the team on / 01432 269245

HerefordshireLive vertlogo




Do you want to write for Herefordshire Live? Get in touch on Facebook, Twitter or say