Our Communications Coordinator on the ways storytelling helps him

Photo courtesy of Alejandro Ramos

By Alejandro Ramos

My name is Alejandro and I’m the Communications Coordinator for PEERS. All of the social media posts, email newsletters, and blog posts are uploaded and shared by me. On top of that, I brainstorm new ways to continue the conversation about mental health and reduce its stigma. In short, you can think of me as the head storyteller at PEERS. I’m here to help our staff and participants share their stories of recovery with the world. 

See, everyone has a story to tell. This is something I believe with all my heart. It’s the principle that guides me to do the work I do for PEERS and beyond. This urge to tell stories has always been a defining factor in my life. When I was young, I wrote short stories featuring my favorite cartoon characters in one-off adventures. As I grew older, I became interested in different types of storytelling, from fictional to poetic to journalistic. 

Over time, I realized that creative expression is essential for me and my wellness practice. It helps me process and release whatever I’m going through. I’ve used creative writing, sketching, and even dance to overcome my lowest moments, moments when anxiety made it hard for me to breathe and think. Art grounded me and brought me back to the present so I could walk forward one step at a time.

Recently, I’ve been focusing on film photography as my go-to medium of choice. My life has been in flux for the past couple of months. Capturing moments on film gives me peace of mind. I know I’ll be able to go back and revisit precious memories at a later time. It also keeps me from stressing about if I got the picture right the first time. Film forces me to be patient and accept whatever comes from each frame.

It’s been a blessing to find out what works for my mental health. It didn’t come easy though. As a Latino, the topic of mental health is often met with harsh comments before being swept under the rug. It was difficult for me to open up in that kind of environment. I was lucky enough to make friends that exposed me to the arts and inspired me to pursue them for myself. Community is important, even for those of us with the best wellness routines.

A lot of this is what brought me to PEERS. I was intrigued by the organization’s approach to mental health and wellness. There’s a strong sense of community and inclusion here. It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from; there’s a place for you here with us. I’ve only been here a couple of months, but I can tell I’m going to learn and grow a lot here. 

I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be part of this incredible community. I’ll do my best to move the conversation forward and break the stigma around mental health.