“Depression is not a malfunction, it is a signal, it’s telling you something” – Johann Hari.
Social media creates a bubble; a world much smaller than the beautiful one we live in. One in which if you are left out of someone’s status update, not invited to a group chat or receive no likes on a photo, you feel you are unloved, unliked and unwanted. That is an overwhelming risk to have bundled up in a single shiny pocket-sized device.
We have become so digitally connected that we have somewhat forgotten what it means to have human connection. The act of connecting as human beings has diminished over the years due to the influx of digital technologies, incredibly busy lifestyles, and greater time constraints. From this human disconnection, we have seen incredibly alarming increases in cases of mental illness, and unfortunately also suicide.
The Human Connection Project was founded by Matt Boyce who’s lived through his own struggles with mental illness since the loss of his best friend. He was able to use his experiences to drive the development of an initiative that empowers people to engage, create and lead through human connection. It’s the mission of The Project to promote learning and advocacy for proactive mental health solutions based on the three pillars central to Matt’s philosophy of human connection: empathy, leadership and empowerment.
Empathy describes the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Empathy is often incorrectly confused with sympathy, as both words deal with the relationship a person has to the feelings and experiences of another person. However while sympathy is merely sharing a similar feeling as someone else, empathy goes beyond just a feeling, it is the choice and act of connecting with another person and their experiences.
Leadership is not meant as a title or position of authority over someone else. The pillars of human connection describe leadership as an act or ability to look to the person at your left, the person at your right and ensure they, and everyone that surrounds you is supported and encouraged to succeed in life.
Empowerment describes the action of supporting the individuals within your network and your community in their actions and endeavours, whether they mirror or match your own beliefs or not. Everyone’s needs and journey will be different, and it is not our goal to mould people to just one perspective of success, but to empower them to be the best version of themselves.
Using this recipe, The Human Connection Project has become a multi-layered social enterprise working within the community empowering connection to develop psychological resilience and emotional wellbeing. We hope through our initiatives that those with depression or anxiety don’t see themselves as someone who is broken, but as someone who currently has some unmet needs. Equally these philosophies can be employed by those without a definitive mental illness, and just want to strengthen and improve their mental wellness.
The Human Connection Project strives to create a world where everyone loves everyone, where phones can’t be seen at the dinner table, where eyes meeting on a train lead to smiles (as opposed to getting whiplash from the urge to look away the fastest), where we bring those near to us closer, feeling their presence and connecting to who they really are and what they care for.