Mental Health Evening at Thought Foundation

On Thursday evening I attended a Mental Health event at Thought Foundation, organised by Rachel Horton #TheCultureVulture … 

Mental Health Event 19 Sept 2019

(Source: The Culture Vulture Facebook Page)

I work part time as Senior Adviser in Wellbeing for our organisation’s 2000+ staff, and over the last year, a part of my role has been re-branding our active mental health network to become a Well-Ment Network (combing our wellbeing work with mental health).

Everybody has mental health, just as they have physical health, but there is still a lot of stigma, even saying the words “mental health”.  I know this will take time to change, but firmly believe we’re heading in the right direction, and am keen to play my part promoting this.

Having experienced mental health issues myself (as do one in four of us each year), I believe being able to be honest about the challenges we have and continue to face can help normalise what it’s like to be a human being.   Knowing we are never alone and that it’s ok to not be ok all the time, means we no longer need to feel shame for our thoughts, but instead, embrace a world where we can be our true selves, and seek help as and when we need it – just as we do if we have a physical pain or injury.

Speaking up takes strength and courage, and I’ve seen the positive benefits of this when people have shared personal experiences via video and intranet articles at work.  One account by someone with Bi-Polar attracted an unprecedented 80+ comments of support from staff.

Here are some of the highlights and learnings from the mental health evening at Thought Foundation:

  • the fight or flight response designed to protect us from harm e.g. seeing a tiger is triggered regularly throughout the day e.g. checking our phones, sitting in rush hour, watching the news.  In the olden days, if we’d seen a tiger (and been lucky enough to escape), we’d take time to recover in our cave until the chemicals released by our brains had worked their way out of our bodies.  In today’s age, many of us are not taking that time to recover, and creating more daily.  The chemicals, if not kept under control, can cause our bodies long term physical damage.  We were invited to think what are the big tigers in our lives, and what are our caves?
  • An experiment to create stress was effective.  Some of us were asked to stand at the front which created uncomfortable feelings for both them and us who were doing more than crossing our fingers hoping not to be picked.
  • In a study of 1000+ actors 50% admitted to having a current mental health issue, but 70% said they would not disclose it for fear of not been given parts.
  • If you’re working for yourself, it’s important to take time to check in with others e.g. at a Breakfast Club, or Riverbrew offer co-working sessions (with no pitching, no business cards).
  • We were recommended :

The speakers included  MyndrMortal Fools and Lucy Nichol, and host Rachel Horton, who shared a combination of advice and personal experiences, plus led a Q&A session.

It was both interesting and harrowing to hear real life case studies of what it feels like to have panic and anxiety attacks, to hear of relationship breakdowns and what it’s like to make the difficult decision to cut family members out of your life, and to hear how outwardly strong successful people can be suffering in silence, to the point where the ongoing stress can cause hair loss.

That said, the event was not about moaning, or complaining, or pity – far from it.  It was about strategies to cope, becoming a community of support for each other, and about education.  It was a well hosted inspiring event, and a great way to spend an evening.

I’ve since discovered a blog called Black Behind My Eyes which is an honest account of a man living with depression, that he started in November 2016.  It’s difficult to read in places, but packed with quotes and advice, and I imagine could be a source of comfort for people who are suffering (or those who know others who are).

Can you recommend any mental health resources or events?  Have you visited the Thought Foundation at Birtley (it’s got a great cafe, children’s play area, and weekly events including Family Bingo and a Family Film at weekends)?

#Mental Health  #MentalHealthEvening  #ThoughtFoundation  #Myndr  #MortalFools  #LucyNichol  #RachelHorton  #TheCultureVulture  #BlackBehindMyEyes #YouAreNotAlone




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