Using Storytelling to Transform Narratives about Mental Health

July 12, 2022

By Zane Landin

Zane Landin (he/him/his) is an authentic storyteller, founder of PostiveVibes Magazine and Landing Dreams PR. He is a recent graduate from Cal Poly Pomona, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Communication and Public Relations, while also serving as president of seven student organizations. Landin has served on several committees and boards for mental health including the National Center for Learning Disabilities. He also participated in the first-ever Mental Health Youth Action Forum in Washington D.C. where he met President Biden and Dr. Biden. Landin’s work has appeared on numerous platforms including Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.

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Courtesy of PostiveVibes Mag

From the dawn of childhood, I was always on a path to finding my personal identity. From an early age, I experienced depression and anxiety. This really impacted how I viewed myself and was an ongoing battle. I always felt something was wrong because I never seemed to “fit in” wherever I went. I was always more sensitive than most people, which was constantly pointed out. Even today, I tend to feel isolated and alone. I continually challenge myself by putting myself out there and trying new things. It can be emotionally exhausting, and when I reach those moments, I must set boundaries for my mental wellness. 

My goal is to be more adventurous because, as a storyteller, I can’t captivate the world entirely through my own fictional thoughts. Imagination has helped me become a better writer to reach heightened universes of blissful uncharted territory. But imagination can only take someone so far. In 2016, I entered university, which was a new path for me. I was nervous about the unknown since I was entering a new realm of possibilities. This was a unique opportunity to be someone I wasn’t. It was the first time I was surrounded by people coupled with a supportive, safe environment. I felt encouraged to be vulnerable and honest about my queerness and mental health where I wasn’t scrutinized with judgment. University inspired me to come out as bisexual to my family. I really felt like I could be my authentic self.

Courtesy of PostiveVibes Mag

Writing has always been a massive part of my life. As someone Hispanic, Queer, and disabled, writing supported my healing. It helped me find my voice and discover my purpose in life. I was always a terrible writer growing up, so ironically, it played a huge role. Because I began to journal about my experiences in high school, I began to respect and appreciate the art of writing. I also became incredibly fascinated with the world of poetry. In high school, I still had to hide who I was, so poetry allowed me to use similes and symbols to describe what I didn’t want the world to know. It wasn’t until 2019, when I was experiencing a mental health decline, that I learned I had a passion for storytelling. A mentor taught me it was possible to have a career in writing and creativity. 

I was doing much better in 2020. But no one anticipated the COVID-19 pandemic would hit the world as it did in March 2020. At this particular time, so many people’s mental health was declining. This brings me to what really changed the course of my life. The mainstream media failed to adequately address the mental health community in a positive light. During the pandemic, the media had a significant responsibility to the people. Unfortunately, it didn’t involve the mental health community, a shared experience for many during the pandemic. 

At University I took a copyediting class and for our final project we had to create our own publication. I pondered what I really wanted for a publication. I decided to make “PositiveVibes Magazine,” which was a digital magazine for telling uplifting messages about mental health, wellness, and positivity. My friend and I were inspired to transform this idea into a reality. We started off with a small Instagram page in May 2020. This platform was for anyone who felt isolated and alone. Our mission was to reassure people they weren’t alone in their thoughts. We were mainly going to write blogs on mental health topics to inform people. One day, a life coach reached out about being interviewed. This changed everything. 

Courtesy of PostiveVibes Mag

Since then, we’ve shared over 70 stories of phenomenal, diverse voices from mental health advocates, athletes, wellness coaches, drag queens, mediums, psychics, and even angel healers. These interviews give me hope for the future because it shows the world isn’t so dim. There are millions of people doing extraordinary things for their communities. It has completely changed my life, and I don’t know where I would be without this brand. 

I’ve learned storytelling is key if we want to drive universal change for mental health. It is essential to take risks and have authentic intentions. Change isn’t only about making a massive, global difference; it is about the singular moments that can ripple in the hearts of our local communities. If one person dares to share their story, more will follow, and we will see cultural change. Suppose we can focus on authentic storytelling, validating people’s experiences, and showing empathy. In that case, the world will continue moving in a more promising direction. We need to have courage and be kind. 

To learn more, explore PositiveVibes Magazine’s website and Instagram page. I hope it will bring you the joy and inspiration you need.

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