Because I’m Free
A window into the world of Tamar Brannigan: Crisis Text Line Supervisor, prof, QTPOC activist, 8000+ Instagram posts (and counting), life storyteller, and all-around wonderful human being. Tamar’s role as Crisis Text Line supervisor has them overseeing volunteers from all over Canada. In Tamar’s words:
Right now a lot of youth have trouble calling in, they’re not used to actually picking up a phone and talking to another human, which I think causes a lot of anxiety and makes it really difficult for somebody who is experiencing a mental health break, or is just going through something really intense in their life to do something that is already really scary. We’re in a place where people spend so much of their time online—so much of their interactions and their relationships happen in online spaces.
When things get really hard and people have to express their emotions and talk about things that make them feel really vulnerable, that’s difficult to do at any point. But if much of your interpersonal skills are based around texting or chatting in online spaces, going to talk to a stranger about something that is so close to your heart and makes you feel so vulnerable is a huge barrier to accessing mental health support.
The work that we’re doing is absolutely not the same as going to a therapist or going to a counselor. What we’re doing is meeting someone who is in an acute space of crisis and making sure that they can come down from that very escalated place into a place where they’re a little calmer, and then achieve other supports. We can link them to counselors and other in-person resources if they need that. We don’t give people advice, we don’t tell people what to do because we don’t know what’s best.
But we can encourage people and affirm that they are the experts of their own experiences and really help build the strength and resilience in them to be able to make the decisions that are best for them in that moment. Moving from a place that is suggestive or directive to a place where we’re affirming where they’re at in that moment, telling them how brave they are for reaching out for help and how that shows how much strength they have in them.
I’m Alex, a moviemaker from Toronto. I love documenting people’s personal stories and trying my best to capture their essence on screen using their existing videos, photos, music, writing, and artwork along with new footage I shoot with them.
I’m Tamar, a QTPOC activist with a background working with youth and marginalized groups of people. I’m passionate about creating emotionally rich online spaces and growing academic environments where learning can happen with joy and new curiosity.
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