Mitchell Wallis: Westfield Local Heroes 2018
How Mitch got people around the world wearing their heart on their sleeve
When Mitchell Wallis shared his personal story about his mental health struggles, little did he know his YouTube video would go viral with over a million views around the world in a single week.
That was in May 2017. After his experience touched so many, he set up the Heart on My Sleeve social media campaign and website to encourage people with mental health issues to tell their stories for their own healing and to help others feel less alone.
“I wanted to go beyond awareness campaigns,” says Mitch.
His Heart on My Sleeve movement encourages people who have been affected by mental illness to draw a heart on their forearm, take a photo, and write about their experience. They then upload the picture and words to the Heart on My Sleeve website or social media pages.
His mission is "humanise mental health, one heartfelt story at a time" by facilitating three million conversations in the next three years.
After a lifelong battle with anxiety, panic attacks and depression, Mitch was in his mid-20s and living in Seattle, when he reached his lowest ebb.
He stumbled across a YouTube video of a young man talking about his experiences with mental health problems and it helped Mitch so much that he returned home to recover.
“I moved back in with my parents, borrowed my nan’s car, and had nothing but my story and the people around me who were keeping me afloat,” he says.
Now Mitch is the Heart on My Sleeve CEO and has one employee. He runs day-to-day operations such as marketing, social media, public speaking and fundraising. And he has big plans to grow the movement into a fully-fledged online resource.
He is delighted to have been voted a Westfield Local Hero. “It’s meant so much to me to be recognised by my local community – my Mosman home has been a strong element in all of this.”
Heart on My Sleeve will use its $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant to build digital infrastructure for new programs, including an eLearning platform and an online counselling service.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.