For this first Trialogue meeting in Gosport, held at the Creativity and Wellbeing Centre run by the Square Pegs Charity, 9 people attended. Of those 7 identified themselves as having lived experience, 1 as a carer and 7 as professionals.
Part I – How can mental health be promoted in communities?
Talking like we are doing at the Trialogue!
There are lots of levels, individual, cultural, organisational etc..
we’re used to going to ‘Mentally ill’ when Mental Health is mentioned, when we should see Mental Health as a good thing
If we say ‘physical health’ we assume the positive of this, mental health assumes the negative.
Perhaps this is because we only really talk about it when it becomes a problem?
The visible vs the invisible
If physical is ‘not your fault’ = germs perhaps mental ill health is seen as our fault
Mental Health – it is not as obvious – things get affected in a tangential way. It comes up in unexpected ways eg. not being able to go out
Fear of the unknown. Behaviours can backfire on you.
It can be hard to connect behaviours to distress, part of this is culturally determined
distress = behaviour eg sub misuse, anger
We need to look for why
The language limits how we think about the subject, lots of emotive words are used.
There is a fear of talking about Mental Health, affecting how confident we feel to talk about it.
How confident are people that they will remain well? Is there a fear of waking the beast?
Communities are more diverse now, church groups, residencies, online communities, communities of interest often, with a common thing that connects them.
international communities, they can be global, people will travel long distances to take part in their interests.
some neighbourhood communities
What communities are we talking about?
Is it even a community, online there are lots of Mental Health posts
This can be a double edged sword – online support and risk exists
Ordinary communities exist similar to offline but anonymity is the main difference?
Road rage – alters your restraints, you voice opinion more freely when driving, so the similar effect online.
What changes our behaviours then?
Distance or proximity of contact, online can be a mask.
These (Trialogues) kind of groups bring out our best behaviour = good, honesty and sharing.
Connection with people can be really difficult
We need to find gaps to support, so we can fill them
Usually we go to the GP as there is nowhere else to go
Getting the message out about Mental Health is important
Good quality, accurate information is importance for signposting
Sometimes people don’t or can’t go to the Drs as they feel too vulnerable.
lots of prominent people are now admitting to Mental Health issues
Should we all have Mental Health check ups too?
would we admit when Mental Health issues exist in order to nip things in the bud?
Good employment law is also important
Complete communities at work there are too
Work support in some places is excellent, in others it is not so good
It is not a failing to ask for help
why do we see it as a failing, often, to ask for help with our Mental Health?
The government say it is a top priority, but saying and doing are different things
Get feedback from people about what help is needed, be solution focused.
There are lots of small organisations doing good work, networking.
just smiling at each other and asking how we are helps.
How we respond to each other matters.
If we can all make a positive contribution every day it will make a big difference
Small things make a big difference
‘If you see someone without a smile, give them on of yours’
If you don’t get a response back, realise it may not be personal
We don’t know what’s going on for others, what that person could be feeling etc.
The more extreme the behaviour – can we just accept others as they are?
Connection with others is important but it’s not always possible
we can’t control others only ourselves
be as non-judgemental as we can and not react too quickly – step back and think before responding
We often need to be patient, this is essential as is compassion, it is so important
Part II- why do we see it as a failing, often, to ask for help with our MH?
You can take on culture, religion, philosophies etc pressures then if you don’t live up to those standards we can be very self-punitive. Does that not happen for Mental Health issues? A sense of self-failure? If we are in the swim of life and still feeling under pressure so many beat themselves up even more!
If you think you’re doing everything right and still failing eg body image – not living up to media standards
Maybe we need to adopt a ‘that’s not for me, that’s not my bag, I do it this way’ approach?
Wanting to belong and conformity vs the bit of us that want to be individual.
Acceptance is required, and confidence to stand out.
Conditioning affects this
Stereotype, eg men have to be strong, there is little recognition that the weaknesses can bring out the strengths in us.
Stigma and perceived stigma are at work here
I’m a human being, maybe a little bit different, we are all different.
Shame is very potent
We can’t see it, Mental Health
What drives shame? Sometimes it can be how it affects others that causes shame, eg if we don’t treat others well
Failure and shame are connected
Not meeting other people’s expectations
Individualistic society, the expectation is that you will cope alone
Materialistic society – we need to have the ‘stuff’
Not meeting these creates shame
When we don’t fit the community, we are really good at beating ourselves up.
Self-compassion and acceptance is so hard
We can be so hard to ourselves.
You are your best friend
Why not forgive ourselves?
It is vital to recovery, self-compassion
Then this can positive spread to others, it can also allow you to reach out and ask for help.
How does that self-compassion happen?
For some this is entwined with spiritual belief
Not judging, giving with no expected return
Spirituality and religion are not the same thing
What words mean is different for all of us.
Spirituality can be an amazing resource but it is not for all.
Make your own portfolio for recovery
What we call it is less important than doing compassionate things
Feeding it forward
Compassionate ball, gathering more positivity on the way down the hill!
Conditioned behaviour, we are not right or wrong, we just are…
We have the right to be ourselves
When we can’t be, we beat ourselves up
also not knowing who we are can be an issue,
Not being in a position of certainty
Is it the journey that can be the issue?
Doing good for others can be good for is. self-expectation
Not having to justify ourselves to others may increase with age
When younger we don’t really know so clearly who we are
How does the discovery of who we are come about? Often through hard times
Confidence in self via others beliefs helps one grow – if others believe in us we can grow, flower and develop
Often chance meetings with inspirational people can be really helpful. Not always long meetings.
Build on positive contacts
Often as we look back and see others struggling as we have we want to help them on their journey
People showing us compassion allows us to feel compassion for us too and then we can be compassionate to others more easily
School = sets a lot of conditions
Gratitude for what we do have not negative feelings for what we don’t have.
Failure wrapped up in expectations is internalised from early age then reinforced as we get older.
Bereavement is often considered ‘illness’ after 2 weeks!
There is a human need to fit ourselves into boxes but we really don’t fit in
Liking ourselves is important and acceptance if we cock up
Learn the lesson and forgive yourself!
Labels – we are keen on the list of labels. When we are trying to break out of boxes this is a great gift, we are showing the limits of the box.
Why does it matter if we don’t fit?
Wanting to belong, be part of the tribe, security etc is a fundamental thing
We want to find places we belong
So many people are so isolated
We are all connected to each other really
Somehow this connection has been broken
It is important to accept people as they are
we’re all very special in our own way
The internet, when physically disconnected it is still there online.
Do we get a connection online? Is it real?
Is that as valuable as face to face?
Can know people really well and form amazing connections
some find the internet invaluable
Knowing the rules of the community when we’re in them is important
Question for next time:
How does social media impact on our mental health and wellbeing?