Storytellers is Newly Launched and Updating the Conversation on Mental Health

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Published May 23, 2019
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The Montclarion
Safety and security are a top concern for Storytellers co-founders John Pitera and Chris Santos. Photo courtesy of John Pitera

An officially launched and revitalized mental health website continues to change the game. Storytellers is a website that allows you to share your emotional, mental and physical health struggles in a community of others who understand. It has officially been launched since April 1 with minor yet efficient changes.

This new form of social media has eliminated its original mentors, also known as health professionals, to make Storytellers more customizable. In the past, original mentors would read each submission from users and place them into a community based on their symptoms.

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John Pitera hopes that new changes will empower Storytellers users and promote inclusivity.
Photo courtesy of John Pitera

Founder and CEO John Pitera worried that having mentors would limit each user.

“Our issue with mentors wasn’t getting in contact with them, but limiting the Storytellers experience,” Pitera said. “This restricted the user’s ability to explore themselves. They can now enter, exit and switch communities as they wish in order to find their best fit.”

Pitera and his team sought out the issues before the launch date and discovered that restricting user symptoms to one category was not providing the most positive experience. By terminating mentors, each user can freely experiment and have the availability for more space while avoiding a label.

Erin Lubach, a junior studying medical humanities, was given the opportunity to first experiment with Storytellers weeks before the launch date. She discovered updates and changes along with some of her favorite things about the platform.

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The main page of the Storytellers website highlights their mission statement to share, diversify and grow.
Screenshot taken of storytellerssocial.com

“The first thing I noticed was how simple it was to navigate the site,” Lubach said. “One of my favorite aspects about Storytellers is how anonymous it is. It is not like any other platform I have used before.”

The anonymous factor gives a highlighted experience for users who are new or timid when discussing their health issues. Users do not need a profile picture, nor can they see who liked their posts if they use a specific setting. Lubach acknowledged that these settings and customizable experiences could really help others who deal with self-confidence issues.

“Even though this is unusual compared to platforms we use on a daily basis today, this aspect will definitely be more advantageous than not,” Lubach said.

Safety and security still remains a top concern for both Pitera and CTO Chris Santos. Lubach also noticed that Pitera and Santos worked extremely hard on the platform to promote a sense of security for all users. When Lubach tested the Storytellers site, she made sure to access her account from a variety of devices. After logging out of her account on whichever device, the account is inaccessible unless the information is resubmitted beforehand.

“The level of security this platform holds is by far the best I have ever experienced, and that is something I can say with full confidence,” Lubach said. “The security features makes Storytellers a much safer place and it allows users to feel more comfortable and confident about sharing their own stories.”

With newer updates regarding the elimination of mentors and a constant update on security, Montclair State University students are in favor of making Storytellers more customizable, hoping to avoid labeling.

Mia Albert, a junior psychology major and advocate for Storytellers, noted her input in a previous Montclarion article regarding the platform. She is now content with seeing such positive updates as she struggles with anxiety herself.

“I think eliminating mentors was a good idea,” Albert said. “Since they are professional health mentors it may have been intimidating to first time users who are unsure of how they truly feel. Being able to jump around to different communities and explore yourself is honestly an amazing feature unlike before.”

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Storytellers was officially launched on April 1, but John Pitera plans to continue working on the site and making improvements with user input in mind.
Photo courtesy of John Pitera

Albert and Lubach are extremely passionate about Pitera’s platform. Expansion is in the books for Pitera and he is always thinking about how to update and promote Storytellers.

“Our hope for expansion is to really include all groups of people, we are not focused on revenue as much as we are on inclusiveness,” Pitera said. “We want everyone to tell their story and empower others to overcome hardships.”

With eliminating mentors, Storytellers will always be at a constant rate of change but will always stay true to the original plan by sharing, diversifying and growing each user and community.

“Though we are far from perfect, we want to change and pivot around what our Storytellers want,” Pitera said. “We listen to feedback and if there is something we see a lot of people wanting, nothing is out of discussion.”

Check out the new and updated Storytellers at storytellerssocial.com and follow @storytellerssocial on social media. For more inquiries DM @storytellerssocial on Facebook and Instagram.

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