When it came to this years World Mental Health Day, we thought about how mental health challenges affect everyone and anyone in completely different way. It is impossible for us to write one blog (that is a readable length of course) on all the ways people are affected and can deal with difficult periods of mental health.
Therefore, this World Mental Health Day we've turned to the expert treasure trove of insightful speaker blog contributions, workshops, and talks we have on our books. From the wealth of advice offered by professionals who engage with mental health daily, we've compiled insights from activists, writers, therapists, and even a Buddhist monk. Discover their unique perspectives on addressing mental health challenges in both themselves and others. Hopefully the distinctive backgrounds and perspectives of all our experts featured for World Mental Health Day show that there is no one size fits all approach to mental health, but also that anyone can overcome.
Hannah-Jayne is a mental health advocate with three decades of lived experience within the system and her own story to tell about life with severe anxiety. Hannah creates bespoke courses, workshops and lectures to support and better your wellbeing.
When asked her greatest piece of advice said…
“If you are supporting someone, put the tips, tricks, and distractions down and listen, without adding any thoughts of your own. Ask them open-ended questions like ‘how does that make you feel?’, or ‘how can I support you?’. They may not know the answers, but maybe you could figure it out together over time.
And if you are going through it right now, my biggest tip is hope. Keep the hope that it will get better. If I could tell the younger version of me who got kicked out of the school system, who dealt with suicide ideation far too young and became physically sick from her own mind what she was doing now, I’m not quite sure she would believe me…
Keep going. From one to another - the future's so bright.”
Paul is an ACT and CFT therapist who is passionate about bringing practical, workable skills to people so that they can improve their mental health and live more fulfilling lives.
Paul on anxiety…
“Knowing what it is, why it’s there and having a personal understanding of what it meant to me specifically, was the foundation for me being able to cope with it.
Over the years and training as a therapist, I have learnt and experienced so many approaches that help me manage and accept anxiety now. It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel it…When I work with clients who are suffering with anxiety at any level, I aim to help them understand what’s going on at a physical and emotional level. We’ll then work together to establish ways in which they can cooperate with their anxiety to develop their own more effective personal coping mechanisms. These can enable them to live a life that they want to lead, rather than one dictated by anxiety.”
Rikki is an award-winning writer, director, actor, risk-taker, rule-breaker, and lifelong diversity crusader. He is also the editor of 'Black & Gay in the UK' and the artistic director of multi-media production company Team Angelica.
Talking about the power of self-love…
“…this is why it's so exciting to work with people on developing new mindsets, reframing thought patterns and taking long, loving, courageously honest looks at our thoughts and actions and reframing them so they work for us. This requires building new mental skill sets, learning when to be generous and when to be firm, learning how to listen, learning when to speak up, challenging our exhausting patterns and our cosy victimhood, decluttering our lives and minds, tapping into healthy sources of energy and inspiration and learning how to use the two most powerful words in any language: yes and no. It's quite a list. But all one thing really - taking back control of our thinking, which is an art in itself. But we're worth it. And when you start getting the hang of it - here’s the best part - it’s actually fun.”
Nick is a former Buddhist monk and a meditation and mindfulness expert supporting the LGBTQ+ community with mental health and minority stress.
When asked about healing from childhood experiences and stress as a minority…
“Brené Brown says "shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment." Her suggestion for healing shame is empathy, both from ourselves but also from others who we can share this shame with. Meditation is a space where we learn to bring a non-judgemental and loving attitude to whatever shows up inside us. When we learn to face the emotions we fear and want to forget with kindness, non-judgmental listening and compassion then our own self-empathy brings healing.
We also heal by sharing our stories and hearing others speak, so that we learn we were not alone, feeling empathy for those who share their story with us and being held with empathy as they listen to us. We need these spaces where we feel trust and can openly share. This may be with friends, a therapist or on workshops."
Rob Smith is the co-founder of That Day and Uncommon Man as well as a fitness and wellness coach who has helped hundreds of clients live a healthier life.
When asked about his own mental health routine…
“Over the past few years, I've become aware of how small actions can add up to have large impacts on my mental health.
A few years ago, I noticed that my Mondays varied widely in terms of how I felt. Sometimes, I'd be all fired up and optimistic, while other times, I'd drag myself in with low energy and a gloomy mood.
In my quest to uncover the common factors behind these swings, I made a revelation. When I neglected to invest time on Sundays to tidy up my living space, do the washing, organise my workspace, and handle general life tasks, it invariably resulted in a sub-par Monday, which could leak into the whole week.
That's when I introduced what I call my "Sunday Session," a dedicated block of a few hours to tackle all these tasks. This single adjustment has likely had the most significant impact on my ongoing mood and mental wellbeing. It’s like a weekly reset.
Of course, there's always a trade-off. In this case, it meant saying no to social events on both weekend days. I still prioritise this practice as much as possible, however, in situations where attending an event on a Saturday AND Sunday is necessary (or highly desired), I block out Monday morning for the delayed Sunday session.
If you were to step into my room and take a quick look around, you'd probably be able to gauge my current mental state in an instant!”
Thanks so much for reading this compilation of insightful perspectives from our amazing speakers and workshop leaders. All the people featured on this blog are available to lead sessions at your workplace, fro World Mental Health Day and beyond. So please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to book one of these speakers.