It’s heartbreaking but true.
Recent stats show us that 1 in 12 college students make a suicide plan. About 1 in 4 have suicidal thoughts, 1 in 3 have long periods of depression, 1 in 2 say their mental health is poor, and perhaps most frustratingly, 2 in 3 who need support don’t get it.
Why is this the case? It’s 2017. This shouldn’t happen.
What’s Your Big Lie (WYBL) is based on the concept that everyone has a “big lie” shielding us from who we truly are. And when we feel like we are living a lie, we are more prone to anxiety and depression, less able to exercise rational thought and have a much harder time to pay attention. In effect, we’re in panic mode.
A big lie is defined as, “something immense that we hide from the world even though it defines us.”
Our big lies can make us feel like we’re not enough, like we don’t belong and like we’re alone. But what if we shared our big lies? What would happen next?
Using phones and an anonymous technology platform, participants submit what they are hiding from everyone (their “big lie”). When asked thought-provoking questions, responses are filtered and projected in real-time onto a screen for audiences to absorb. Participants then respond back to different statements verbally – not knowing who in the room it came from – offering messages of affirmation and hope.
This program was developed in collaboration with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in 2016 and has been receiving rave reviews since it’s launch. WYBL has been presented to over 100,000 students, teachers, parents, and professionals.
WYBL helps participants support each other and catalyzes shifts towards inclusivity and acceptance. This interactive keynote and pop-up exhibit is a spark to build a stigma-free culture of openness and vulnerability at school or work. It is ideal for institutions and groups who are looking to strengthen peer support, empathy, and belonging.
Program Topics: Mental Health Awareness, Peer Empathy, Belonging
Increased belonging, increased usage of campus support services, increased openness on campus
Program Creator and Facilitator:
The presentation was definitely was amazing. It was a real eye opener for me and I realized that I’m not alone with living a lie. My friends have accepted me for me and I was partially surprised, but I realized during the session that my true friends are going to be there when I need them most.
First off, I just want to give some praise to Jordan Axani. I’ve had quite a few speakers come from your organization. All of them have been nice. But none have been as down to earth, careful, considerate and thorough as Jordan. We spoke many times before and after the presentation. He stayed after his talk, both assemblies, to have one on ones with the kids and he sent some marvelous resources. Why I want to mention this is because we’ve had speakers who ask you what you want them to talk about and they can whip it together and it’s fine. But Jordan actually came to give us a message. It was personal, uncomfortable, raw and ultimately honest and this is what we needed. Authenticity. His character is what Cawthra celebrated. His strength in discussing mental health issues, a very taboo subject, was formidable. Everything about him radiates honesty and in a high school, kids can sniff out a fraud in less than 1 minute. He was phenomenal. The information we gathered as a result of his visit will have an impact on how we deal with mental health moving forward.
What’s Your Big Lie is an intimate and engaging social experience that provides students with the opportunity to uncover their vulnerable secrets and to find an environment best for finding out that the truth will only be recognized by others when you say it out loud. It is a great way for acquaintances to become entirely focused on how they can help one another, even when they may not know exactly what is bothering someone in need
This presentation was eye opening for both students and teachers alike. Many students were able to step outside of their comfort zone, and realize that what we choose to share to the world isn’t necessarily who we really are. Students learn the importance of empathy, inclusion, and being real. This presentations opens the doors to many important conversations!
“I think many people realized they are not the person they sell themselves as and sharing that anonymously gave them a sense of self worth.”
What’s Your Big Lie was an amazing and eye-opening program that provides a safe space for students to speak their truth with the world. It is accepting and inclusive when you see so many others in the room hiding similar issues. It shows you are truly not alone.
This program is a great opportunity to get students talking about mental health openly with their peers. A great approach to reducing stigma!
Format # 1
In this 45-75 minute interactive keynote, the mirror is turned onto the audience. Imagine 80% of the audience confessing their biggest fears, secrets and lies anonymously, followed by an open mic component that has individuals sharing their stories amongst a sea of validation. Interactive keynotes are highly effective for audiences of 30 through 1,000.
Format # 2
WYBL’s three-hour interactive pop-up will make your jaws drop through creative innovations that generate huge impacts while also being conscious of busy schedules.
Instead of your typical keynote, this facilitated experience allows participants to drop in and share their personal journeys. While this happens, others are able to pass by and see these submissions projected in real-time onto the walls of your event space (all submissions are filtered before they are projected). This creates a dynamic and immersive environment that is moving, visceral and hopeful.
The message behind the pop-ups: “No matter what you’re going through, you’ve never alone.” There is no more important message that can be delivered.
The entire experience is a branded initiative with a specific kit of promotional tools for the days leading up to the event (like this). WYBL’s team will give you tips and tricks on how to make your event successful and how to gather the biggest response from your participants.
This interactive pop-up was created in collaboration with WYBL’s partners Storyplex and Jordan Shaw, who have built installations for New York University, Tribecca International Film Fest, Way Home Music Festival and more.
Interactive Pop-Up & Keynote
This powerful combination (delivered as a daytime keynote or pop-up then followed by the opposite in the evening) leaves a lasting impact. This program can be melded together by taking the daytime submissions from the pop-up and exploring them intimately in the evening, providing a forum for participants to have frank conversations about mental health.
We are beginning to license the software we use for the WYBL pop-ups to schools and organizations globally. Imagine having an ongoing display in your institution’s lobby or hallway that mirrors students real time thoughts. Imagine having the ability to ask different questions to your students over text message and have them respond anonymously. And imagine that we take care of the backend of running the software and moderation. That’s where we’re going. Inquire today to be one of our first pilot institutions.
The lies we live give us the realest sense of how we’re doing.
That got real, real fast. Did not expect to be moved to tears first thing in the morning.
What’s Your Big Lie” encourages kids to look deeply within themselves in order to recognize and understand the persona they are presenting to others. Doing so enables them to tackle the issues they are facing and emerge with a truer sense of self.
Axani provided students with an understanding that each of us should not judge one another’s appearance, because one may not know what that person might be going through.
On-stage, Jordan helps people take off the “masks” they wear around others, leading them to accept themselves as they are, and enabling unprecedented peer support around the idea of living authentically.
What you do is amazing. Truly.
Thank you for letting me speak and be vulnerable in front of others. Although I cried, it felt wonderful.
I love what you are doing. Keep it rocking and going for your dreams.
It was crazy to see that so many people in that room were going through the unimaginable and bottling it up simply because they didn’t want society to judge them.
It’s nice to see the love and care for others. It fosters our community
What a valuable tool for America’s youth!