Realm Hotspot: JCI February

Posted on 18/2/2016 by Katherine Memery

This morning, Realm Directors, Duane and Abbie were privileged to attend JCI Manchester’s February breakfast briefing, hosted by the inspirational Vikas Shah, in which the topic of mental health was discussed in a refreshingly open manner.

Vikas, one of Manchester’s most high-profile entrepreneurs, talked candidly about his experience of fighting a protracted battle with anxiety and depression. He shared personal tales of his fight and spoke encouragingly about the mechanisms he has used to get to the stage he is now at, whereby he is winning his battle.

Two significant, albeit basic, ideas stood out from Vikas’ talk, both of which could potentially make a real difference to those who have previously, currently are, or will in the future experience a mental health disorder. The first being that we ought to alter the very way we talk about mental health and bring our vocabulary in line with the manner in which we speak about other illnesses. For example, instead of using terms such as ‘suffering from’ to describe an individual’s relationship with a mental health disorder, we ought to speak in a way that is more empowering, adopting phrases like ‘winning their battle with’ or ‘beating…’, in the same way we have increasingly come talk about people who have cancer, for example.  

The second is that we should all be more open and willing to discuss mental health, per se. Vikas spoke about his experience of a phone call with a Samaritan and how that simple human interaction became the difference between him making a bad decision and not actually following through with that bad decision. He suggested that more willingness within society to not only take note of changing behaviour in people but to also address the issue head-on, often with a very simple ‘are you okay?’, could make all the difference.

Underpinning the whole of the briefing this morning was the reality that most people will encounter a mental health disorder at some stage in their life, whether personally or through experience with the people closest to them. It is a sobering thought and surely justification enough to extinguish the stigma that surrounds the topic, as Vikas so inspiringly did this morning.

For additional information, help or support, please take a look at the website of either Samaritans or Anxiety UK

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