As a team and as a network, mental health is really important to us. We have a open forum every week where we can share how we’re feeling and just as importantly not share how we’re feeling if it doesn’t feel right. It’s a permanent fixture of an open invitation.
It felt weird at first. I’ve only been at Street Support Network since the beginning of the year, and to start with, I found people I barely knew talking so honestly about how they are, really, a little jarring.
But as it turns out, openness breeds openness. And now, as my team will confirm, I never shut up about how I am. It’s kindness and freedom and acceptance in a way I never thought could be part of a workplace.
It works for us, and so we thought the best way to mark Mental Health Awareness week, the easiest way to starve the stigma of talking about mental health, is just to talk about it.
Mara – Communications and Engagement
I tend to let my mental health do its own thing and when it flares up, I try to support it with unlimited patience and compassion. Therapy is the coolest and whenever I can afford it, that’s where I am. My absolute go-tos in terms of bringing me back to myself are walking in nature and journaling – they’ve saved me more times than I can count and I feel incredibly grateful to have found my ‘things’.
Eliz – West Midlands Coordinator
I suffer from anxiety and depression. It can lead to me either spiralling and overthinking or I can have panic attacks. I find this is typically acute if I feel trapped, either physically like on a crowded train, or within a situation, such as a job I am unhappy in.
Over the years I have sought support through counselling, psychotherapy. I am also on medication to manage it. I find peace in crafting and prayer.
I have been blown away by how supportive my colleagues are when I am struggling with my mental health. I have been in jobs before when it has not been dealt with compassionately and I have felt weak and inadequate as a result, consequently this has exacerbated my anxiety and I have ended up needing to take extended times off work, and I even found myself considering hurting myself. It is horrid being made to feel bad about yourself just because you are unwell. But not with this job role.
Now my Mental health is supported and I feel incredibly valued and cared for. It can be hard to cope when having a period of difficult mental health, but it makes such a difference when the people around you understand and support you.
Gary – Co-Founder
Work is hectic. And I have a busy Family Life with two active sons. I need to remember to look after me and and rest. If I don’t rest, things go sideways. Over the last two years I’ve been a lot more disciplined about meditation to help me rest and help my mental health. Here are two free meditations I use that could help you if you fancy: a 20 minute one that’s great in the morning or at lunchtime.
Daniel – Data Integrity Volunteer
I suffer from Anxiety and Depression, but also have Autism and ADHD, and really they don’t all mix well. I’ve had counselling previously, however, I haven’t found it as useful as psychotherapy. Some days, if not most, it can be hard to do anything and you feel as though everything is against you. Even simple or daily tasks can take a lot of effort. Along with this sometimes your mood can be so low, your emotions high, you feel like you might explode. Some days they “win”, but other days you “win”.
Soraya – UK Network Manager
In 2011, numerous life events took place resulting in my mental health suffering. For a period of a few months, I was in quite a deep depression, to the point where I had suicidal thoughts. I had never experienced anything like this before so I did what I always do in a crisis – I called my mum! She suggested I meditate so that night, I went into my room and started to become aware of my breath. I was able to fall asleep and had the best night’s sleep in months which helped me to see clearer the next day.
Realising that I needed some help to get me back to the joyful, optimistic and open person I was, I began exploring various healing modalities. These included – and still include – talking therapy, yoga, pilates, exercise, volunteering, meditative dance (5 Rhythms), energy healing (Reiki), prayer, and of course, meditation. I also transitioned into eating a plant-based, living foods diet as I find this the most supportive and nourishing for me.
After having spent the last 11 years diving deep into my own healing, as well as supporting many others in their journey, I’ve learnt a lot during this time. Experience has taught me that poor mental – and physical – health usually goes hand in hand with lifestyle choices. For me, in order to heal deeply and fully, I had to be honest with myself and remove all the activities from my life that harmed me and replace them with more nourishing and supportive ones.
A key part of my personal journey in maintaining my mental health was to leave the UK to travel. Since 2017, I’ve lived in several alternative communities and ashrams across four different continents. Being exposed to different ways of living, different cultures, different spiritual practices and the healing arts and sciences is part of my soul’s calling. This is how I express my authenticity and I’ve found that if I’m not being authentic in every area of my life, I suffer – emotionally, physically and spiritually.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that healing is multifaceted and has to be holistic; as in looking at the whole person rather than reducing them to just their mind or just their body. My experience shows me that we are body, mind and soul and all three need to be taken into account to cultivate vibrant health, an abundant life and a deep connection to our soul. All of which is our birthright.