18% of all Americans are living with mental health issues, a huge number. Yet people suffer in silence, afraid that their struggles are a sign of weakness and failure rather than something that can be treated like any other illness. 18percent is a free peer-to-peer mental health support group run on Slack. I joined the community as a moderator when there were a few dozen active members and today we are in the thousands.

Mental health is a topic I am very familiar with through first-hand experiences. In today’s high-stress, high-expectations world, more and more people are revealing that they too are fighting their own battles. 18percent exists to provide a free, safe environment to take about mental health and get support.

I had the idea to start a Slack community for mental health after my positive experiences with other slack communities, mostly for design. I had found that my own trials and tribulations with the subject gave me a pretty good understanding of why it can be a struggle and techniques to make it more manageable. I wanted to pass on that knowledge to others, who may not be able to get the help and support that got me through my troubles.

In my research to discover any existing efforts, I found 18percent in its infancy and have been part of the core team since early 2018. My main role on the platform is to maintain the website and to act as a community moderator. Everyday I talk to members struggling and offer my advice and support, while steering the direction that the community will take with a team of moderators.

“Honestly, one of the best things I’ve come across in terms of options for self-discovery/community support. I didn’t even realize how isolating depression could be until I was sharing my whole life on this here platform. I want y’all to know it makes a difference!”

18percent user

I also designed the current logo – a speech bubble reminiscent of the many hundreds of messages exchanged on the platform each day. To me, the speech bubble logo is the answer to a previous text message. Something like, “how can I get help?” to which the response is “18percent”. You can see the site (and sign up to become a part of the community) here.