As the director of the mental health charity Hope Movement, Rachel Morris connects people with services to enter recovery. She tells Warcry why speaking about suicide is the first step to preventing it.
What is Hope Movement and what do you do?
Hope Movement is a charity that focuses on creating conversations around the topics of mental health, self-worth and the importance of community. Our goal is to increase people’s understanding of mental health, so they are empowered to seek help.
We attend different events with our photo booth and hand out Find Help cards, which list local services. We also partner with community organisations and run mental health programs in schools. It’s all about starting a conversation and pointing people to help in their region.
Why did you create Hope Movement?
I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression when I was 14, and also had chronic fatigue until I was 22. When you struggle with mental illness, you feel extremely isolated, and when I began a Bachelor of Social Work in 2010 I realised there was a lack of understanding around the support services being offered in the community to help people through this.
A group of friends and I agreed to create a website where people could go for help, and we named it Hope Movement. From there, my friend Anna connected with me and said she had the same dream. We developed the site into an online find help database and began running events in 2012.
How does talking about mental health decrease someone’s risk of suicide?
One in four young people experience mental health issues and this can be quite isolating. We know suicidal thoughts can occur during these times, and mental illness is often a contributing factor to suicide, so by talking about it we break the cycle.
Research shows the more you talk about mental health in a safe way—talking about what symptoms mean and giving people clear pathways to help, there’s a greater chance they’ll access this when they feel suicidal.
On the Find Help database, you list a variety of services—from counsellors and psychologists, to community groups and churches. Why is it important to take a holistic approach to recovery?
As much as we may need to see our GP and a counsellor when we are struggling, we also need people around who can support us. A big part of recovery is also knowing that you have something to contribute, so by joining a local community group—whether it be a youth group, a mothers’ group or AA, you can sustain healthy relationships that will aid you in recovery from suicidality or mental illness.
You grew up in The Salvation Army. How does your faith impact your work?
My faith carried me through the hard times, and that has influenced the motto of Hope Movement: “You are not alone. Tomorrow can be better. Hope is here.” I believe one of the core messages of Christ is, “You are not alone,” and that’s the message I try to communicate through my life.