The More Than Project
I am the only one of my parents’ three children that does not suffer from bipolar disorder. Both my older brother and my younger sister suffer from bipolar, as well as other metal illnesses. My family knows the stigma associated with mental illness all too well.
It made me angry that people only saw my siblings in terms of their illness. I saw them as loving, intelligent, kind, strong people. I started a social media movement, #MoreThanBipolar, to start a conversation about mental health online and to celebrate the qualities in people suffering from mental illnesses that make them so much more than an illness.
In January 2018, my brother lost his six-year-long battle with opioid addiction that resulted form his untreated bipolar disorder. As tragic as this was, it has made me even more passionate about ending the stigma. I have since incorporated battling the opioid crisis into my platform.
My social impact initiative has evolved into a passion project aimed at ending the stigma through mental health education and empowering those living with mental illness. The More Than Project gives a voice – and hope – to those people.
Being a titleholder has given me a platform to share my story and have a tangible impact on the mental health and substance abuse communities. I share my story on national stages, teach people how to administer Naloxone, and educate people about mental health online and off.
I believe that breaking down stigma and its effects begins with empowering individuals. Recently, I started a non-profit organization, Tyler’s Triumph, in honor of my brother that provides scholarships and professional development resources to those living with mental health and substance use disorders. It is my mission to let every person living with a mental illness know that they are worthy and so much more than a diagnosis.