Mental health week can be regarded as one of the most important weeks in the year for those working in the mental health field. It provides an opportunity for us provide awareness, connect with each other, expose research and highlight the need to reduce stigma and improve services.
Here at MyMind we also chose to use Limerick Mental Health Week as a platform to further our mental health goals by attempting to become as immersed as we can in the organisation of and participation in Limerick Mental Health Week.
Providing the community with service awareness and visibility whilst meeting and connecting with people is the main focus and goal of MyMind. We hope that we were able to achieve this objective through the events we were involved in such as the Sams Talks and Chair to Share.
Sam Talks, a playful change on words from “Ted Talks” was hosted by the Samaritans in which our Office Manager Michelle O’Connor kicked off the night with her thoughts and experience of perfectionism, jealousy and anxiety which saw an amazing turnout and allowed many people to realise that even those that seem to be the most perfect of people are still battling with maintaining positive mental health.
By becoming heavily involved with community based projects and organising community events it allows our organisation to delve into the interaction between mental health professionals and those in need of specific mental health services.
These events, as fun and lighthearted as they may seem are also held for a number of different reasons. They hold great weight in allowing people to see that mental health services are not something that society needs to shy away and that these people are here because they indeed have a willingness to help others. They also provide communication between what the public needs and wants and what organisations can provide and improve upon.
Understandably one of the biggest highlights of the week was the Family Fun Day which turned Bedford Row into a sea of people and mental health service stalls. Magicians, clowns, a treasure hunt, a MyMind therapist dressed as the Red Power Ranger and an outstanding choir were all present to provide a great atmosphere while also spreading a positive message about mental health.
Our own event was called ‘Chair to Share’ which composed of two chairs, a cookie jar full of questions, buckets of sweets (for the kids), stress balls (for the adults) and a collection of positive and optimistic attitudes. We asked two complete strangers to sit together, take a question from the cookie jar and connect with someone you don’t know on a topic that you wouldn’t usually talk about. This event as was a great success as many people sat down and shared honestly and connected with others in a unique way all while experiencing that ‘it’s okay to talk’.
It must be noted that by no means were these questions invasive yet neither were they predictable or “normal” for example some of the questions were:
“A penguin walks up to you right now wearing a sombrero, what does he say and why is he here?”
“If you were an animal, what type of animal would you be? “
“If you could choose any superpower what would it be?”
“If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?”
“If you could bring three items to a desert island, what would you bring?”
The sense of outrageousness provoked by some of these questions provided time for playful banter whilst getting to know another person, we were nervous when setting up for the event as we believed it required much more participation than preparation however once we saw people hugging after answering the questions and receiving a sticker that stated “Today I Shared MyMind” before heading their separate ways, we knew that we were able to create something special.
It must be acknowledge that by participating in these events the public (without realising) have a large amount of power in ensuring that these events continue to take place and get bigger and better. We can not encourage enough for anyone to come out and join us when we host or take part in an event. Many thanks to the public that attended any event during the week, to Limerick Mental Health Association who funded the event and to all the organisations that were involved and made it such a great experience.