Celebrating courageous story telling

Tessa Alexa Sanford Founder, Institute for Open-Hearted Psychology and Unspoken Global. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Paul Kelly’s lyrics “from little things, big things grow” could not be more true for a community mental health initiative started by local woman Tessa Alexa Stanford, Founder of the Institute for Open-Hearted Psychology.

After moving back to her hometown, Nanango, during the pandemic when her father was ill with Cancer, Tessa became inspired by the concept ‘Think Global, Act Local’.

Tessa had left her decade-long career in the Social Welfare Sector years earlier in 2016 when she became increasingly disillusioned with the systems of care and modern psychological approaches to mental health and overall well-being.

She was adamant the way we were approaching Mental Health at a systemic level was severely limited.

Within her first few months of living back in her home region, Tessa had heard about a young teenager who had taken their life while they were on a waitlist to see a therapist.

She decided to address our global mental well-being problem on a local level right in her own backyard with the first “Unspoken” event of 30 people held on 13 November 2021.

The initiative began as “Unspoken Community Events” yet with the overwhelming feedback and vastness of the mission, Unspoken was swiftly rebranded to Unspoken Global.

Unspoken is designed to work at an early intervention level within communities to help alleviate pressure over time on one-to-one clinical therapy interventions.

The initiative aims to create genuine social change by helping to break inter-generational patterns of shame and True-Self Suppression.

The power of courageous story-telling is something that Tessa herself discovered back when she was 16 and at high school in Nanango.

She took up public speaking as a way to process the death of her mother.

“It was the thing that set me free: speaking the unspoken,” Tessa explains.

“I shared my heart, which was this kind of revolutionary thing back then – and it still is.”

Unspoken is not an overnight solution, it’s one with long-term planning and dedication required.

Tessa has assembled a team and they are currently working on three pathways forward – the global platform, an Australian Tour and the regional rollout.

As the initiative originated here, Wide Bay Burnett will be the pilot region for the regional rollout.

Tessa will facilitate Unspoken events every three months at local community venues throughout the region as an opportunity for locals to experience this event. Speakers will be chosen before each event.

Guests can come and enjoy a night out of connection, honest story-telling and lighthearted fun.

Join the annual celebration event on 8 July and look out for upcoming events.