Jessica Mind charity volunteer has experienced mental health problems since her teenage years. She came to the Heads Together BBQ to talk about how after joining a local running crew and being part of a team, she now feels able to talk about her experiences and feels running saved her life. Here’s her account of the day:
At first, I felt quite anxious being there with the cameras around but once I sat down with the other mental health charity representatives, I felt at ease. We were extremely lucky with the weather so I was really looking forward to relaxing in the sun. Speaking to Prince Harry was like speaking to a friend, especially when he asked me about my running and the various support groups I have found, he listened with intent and came back with very interesting points about being able to find different coping mechanisms surrounding mental health and support groups. We spoke a little about the aim of my blog and how I hoped it would help other people speak openly about their mental illness, which he was very fond of.
The most interesting part for me was the people who attended. Each and every volunteer from the charities and even the celebrities, all had extremely different stories to tell.
I met Ben Brooks Dutton, who in 2012, was widowed after losing his wife in a tragic car accident in front of their young son. Speaking to him about how he has coped over the years was extremely inspiring. Not only has he brought his son up as an only parent but also he writes a blog and has written a novel to help others deal with grief and loss.
It showed that no matter what walk of life you are from we are all human trying to survive and cope with life’s downfalls.
The one thing that really resonated with me that day was when I overheard Dame Kelly Holmes speak of her depression and how she hid behind it whilst being in the spotlight for her multiple Olympic wins, after suffering an injury. As an athlete myself, I could relate to this. When you are training hard, every single day, to reach a goal and your highest potential, and you become injured, your life comes to a complete standstill. Your schedule changes completely like you’ve taken a 180-degree turn and you have to wait it out in rehabilitation until you can get back on track. Depending on the injury, with 4-6 weeks being the average rehab time, weeks, if not months, is a long time to sit there twiddling your thumbs. Kelly, back in 2009, described this as the hardest time of her life.
With the day coming to a close, and after I had scoffed all the barbeque food in my nervous state, I felt like we had all achieved something.
We were all there for the same reason; to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness but with the goal to spread awareness this year and with a campaign like Heads Together, which has the backing of the Royal Family, it holds a bright future for the mental health sector in the UK.