• Emma-Jane

Warrior Kind: Opening Up To Mental Health

This month, I caught up with Sarah Drage, the founder of Warrior Kind: a community that encourages and empowers individuals to speak about their mental health. It’s an absolute honour to share the work of this incredible woman and the community she has created.

Could Warrior Kind be something for you? In the current climate, having a community of individuals to share your feelings and struggles, helps us to reunite and remember that we’re not alone. Find out how you can join this supportive network.

What is Warrior Kind?

Warrior Kind is a network that encourages open discussions about mental illness, transforming suffering into positivity. Warrior Kind celebrates and encourages those who have triumphed over adversity in their life and turned it into a truly positive outcome; whether that is through starting a business or inspiring others with their story. This is why our ethos is to empower, inspire and support. We invite people to share their experiences openly in a supportive environment, in the hope to encourage others to do the same and form part of their healing process. By offering a safe platform, we can connect people through their shared experiences, offering invaluable support in a time of need.

How did Warrior Kind come about?

Initially, I created WarriorKind as a small Facebook group between family and friends, to encourage and initiate conversation about our mental health and to talk about it in a more positive and empowering way. The concept quickly took off and one morning I signed in to the group and saw that the members had increased significantly, suddenly my friends and family were inviting their friends and family and this quickly escalated.

I recognised a demand for empowering support and realised how powerful it is to share inspiring stories of mental illness. Almost every story shared resonates with someone else in some way or another and creates a sense of comfort knowing that they’re not alone. But if I am being totally honest, WarriorKind came about due to the tragic loss of my Dad. I possess a genuine passion in advocating the importance of speaking openly about our mental health due to my own experiences with anxiety, OCD and more recently a PTSD diagnosis.

In 2017 we lost our Dad to decompensated liver failure and multiple organ failure as a result of excessive drinking, a fancy term that was listed on his death certificate for Alcoholism. I hate that term ‘Alcoholism’ because of the stigma associated with it. I have had to justify that addiction and alcoholism is a genuine illness and if you dig a little deeper, there is usually a reason why a person resorts to drinking themselves into oblivion. My Dad would tell me that he drank to forget. He drank to numb the overwhelming anxiety, PTSD and depression. He drank to numb those feelings. He drank because society taught him that it was weak to discuss how you feel. He drank because of the stigma associated with mental health. He died from a mental illness and alcoholism was a consequence of that. The worst thing about all of this is that no one outside his immediate family would’ve known just how bad he was, because he put on such a spectacular façade. This just emphasises the importance of speaking openly about our mental health.

Since the death of my Dad, I am more conscious of mental health and discuss it more openly. I founded WarriorKind based upon the principles that I learnt from my Dads death. I created WarriorKind to ensure that people have a safe space to discuss their mental health and to empower and inspire one another with our achievements and success stories. I don’t want anyone to feel as though they have to mask their mental illness with substances, or even worse, to take their own life because they’re worried about society perceiving them as weak if they speak out and seek help. Even in death, my Dad has continued to inspire me. My Dads death was not in vain because it has inspired and empowered me to create an authentic and relatable platform which gives people the opportunity to embrace their mental illness and triumph over their adversities.

What does Warrior Kind aim to do?

Our biggest aim is to encourage people to embrace their mental illness and provide a support network to people who are struggling to cope. Through sharing relatable and authentic optimistic outcomes, we hope people suffering will gain reassurance that they can emerge positively from their mental illness.

What is the future vision for Warrior Kind?

We would love to see continued growth in our following, to be able to support as many people as possible with their mental health journey. We would like to recruit individuals to represent WarriorKind and host events across the country, to provide much-needed support in other areas of the UK. We are hoping to launch an online magazine with engaging articles about real life experiences and coping with mental health positively to make WarriorKind accessible to as many people as possible. We also hope to signpost WarriorKind people to a more personal level of support on our website by creating an area, with details of accredited and vetted professionals that they can access.

What does Warrior Kind mean to you?

I will be forever grateful for WarriorKind, even in its very early stages it has provided me a level of comfort knowing that my experiences with mental illness have had purpose. As cliché as it sounds, knowing that by just sharing my Dads and my own experiences has helped others is immensely powerful in aiding my healing process. As selfish as it may be, WarriorKind doesn’t only help others, it helps me. I can’t begin to describe how many times WarriorKind has dug me out of a dark hole. The regular positive feedback and support that I receive from our followers encourages me to carry on what I have set out to achieve.

I hope one day the stigma associated with mental illness will dissipate and that we can feel confident to discuss it openly without fear of being judged or stigmatised. I have anxiety, OCD and PTSD, but I am a strong minded, independent and empowered woman. My mental illness will never define me. I will continue to advocate the importance of speaking openly and empowering others to do the same.

How can others get involved in the Warrior Kind community?

Members of the community can get involved by either joining our closed Facebook groups WarriorKind Women or WarriorKind Men. Our website www.warriorkind.co.uk is almost complete which will allow WarriorKind to be accessible for all. We are always looking for inspiring Warrior Kind people to share their stories on our platform or come along to our empowering events to feel inspired and supported by our community. Our events are listed on Eventbrite. We are also grateful for any sponsors that help Warrior Kind fulfil its aims and offer continued support.

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