Speaking during men’s mental health week 2022, mental health advocate Jake Dunn discusses his own mental health story, his involvement with men’s mental health groups and what role volunteering and peer-support has in providing mental health care at a grassroots level.
Male identity is different for everyone, and Will and Jake talk from the perspective of their own lived experiences about some of the barriers they feel might prevent some men from seeking help – as well as what initiatives there are to encourage them to do so.
Then our conversation broadens out to ask what responsibility a health system such as the NHS has to provide services, and in the absence of adequate services, to what degree it is a community’s responsibility to step up to the plate and provide support at grassroots level.
You can find signposting to support, and more information about the show at www.anyamedia.net/livelyminds
W: Hello, my name is Will.
E: And my name is Ellie.
W: Lively Minds is a UK-based podcast about mental health challenges that go beyond the ebb and flow of the everyday.
E: Led by people with lived experience, this podcast is less about how we deal with our mental health and more about how we understand it in the first place.
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E: In today’s episode, we will be chatting with mental health advocate, Jake Dunn. Speaking during Men’s Mental Health Week, we begin by discussing Jake’s own mental health experiences and his involvement with Men’s Mental Health Groups.
W: We are mindful that male identity is different for everyone. And so you’ll hear Jake and I talking from the perspective of our own lived experiences about some of the barriers that we feel might prevent some men from seeking help and what initiatives there are to encourage them to do so. The conversation broadens out to ask what responsibility a health system such as the NHS has to provide services and in the absence of adequate services, to what degree it is the community’s responsibility to step up to the plate and provide support at a grassroots level.
Sorry I was happy to do that. I’ve got this little box of tricks here which are
little sound effects.
W: Hello Jake!
W: Introduce yourself and tell us what your relationship is with the world of mental health.
J: Sure, so I’m Jake, my relationship with mental health. So I started to experience some quite significant symptoms around the age of 23, so that’s like seven years ago now. I think there was always something in the background but it wasn’t until I, you know, it was so significant, that I wasn’t able to function normally, that I started to really pay attention to what was happening. And a couple of years passed, tried to figure it out myself, didn’t work at all and at that point I started to get help. So maybe two or so years after it really started, I started to get help and you know, started to learn about trauma, started to learn about all kinds of things. And more recently, I think in the past couple of years, I’ve met a number of psychiatrists and got a range of different, well, I wouldn’t say a range of different diagnoses, but generally around the complex post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis. Complex trauma, complex post-traumatic stress. So that’s how I identify in a way now. Although I’m sort of questioning the usefulness of that label in my life at this point, although it was very important to me at one point, it’s not as helpful for me now. So yeah, I’ve been in therapy for a number of years. I’ve been involved in mental health services, mainly peer-led mental health services, voluntary services in the Manchester area for the past two or three years. I run a group on a Thursday for people who hear voices. And yeah, you know, I kind of see myself working in mental health in some capacity in the future. That’s where I see my life going.
W: We’re recording this on the 17th of June 2022, which is in the middle of World Men’s Mental Health Week. I mean, can you just tell me whether you think it’s important to have a week of the year where we focus specifically on men’s mental health? Is that, is that helpful?
J: Yeah, I think it’s absolutely helpful. Yeah anything that starts the conversation, you know and pushes it into the public consciousness is a good thing. Whilst there might be and I’m sure there is an awful lot of men who will pay absolutely no attention to it whatsoever, and I would have been one of those at some point in my life, you know when you do go into some hardship and some struggle, you do remember these things, you know, and it is a sort of, sort of comfort and it is, you know, it will become important to people who perhaps aren’t involved in it or have no affiliation with mental health or having no conversation about it if they do it start to experience struggles it will become important to them and you know, the guys who were involved in it are also doing a good job You know, there’ll be lots of men all around the world this week making sure that there’s information available, communities available and just, you know, holding the door open for people, you know, and I think that’s really the best thing, you know, that can come from it. So yeah, I think it’s a good thing.
W: There is that oft cited statistic. This is Office of National Statistics September 2020, which is that in 2019, 76 percent of suicides in England and Wales were men and death by suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45, which is an astonishing and incredibly sobering fact and I just wonder whether you think that there are any particular barriers that men face in addressing their mental health.
J: I think there’s such a diverse group of men out there and I, such a diverse group of reasons for why a person wouldn’t want to engage in a mental health conversation or any reflection as such, I don’t think you can put all them in one group you know, I’ve met men who’ve been severely abused when they were younger have lost all faith in services they’ve been in, services they’ve lost faith in it and now they’re not really, don’t have the desire to engage with it because they feel are gonna be let down again, or it’s not gonna lead anywhere and then I think you’ve got the guys who come from uber macho masculine families like me, you know, this is my, that’s my family, you know, it’s about grafting, life’s about grafting. And if you’re not grafting, you’re not succeeding. And I think that’s a super interesting group of men, and but I think the, the, the point I’m trying to make is that there’s, there’s all different kinds of guys with all different kinds of reasons for wanting to avoid it. And I do think a large proportion of that avoidance comes from, you know, the very real experience of being genuinely helpless when you’re in a mental health crisis. It is a profound experience of helplessness. It’s so confusing. It’s not like, you know, having a broken arm where they know exactly what to do. It’s confusing, you know, and it hits you in such an intimate area of your being as well, it’s terrifying. And as somebody who’s been in therapy for a number of years, noticing that fear and vulnerability in my own self after having gone through the process I’ve gone through is difficult. And the tendency to want to pretend it’s just not happening is massive still for me. And so I, I get it. I understand that. But I think that accepting that profound fear and and fragility and how opposed it is to that kind of masculine stereotype it’s quite a, maybe that’s right at the center of it you know, it’s just this, that is so far away from how I see myself or I want to see myself it’s probably better off me just not even looking at it, you know, maybe it’ll just go away and maybe it does in some cases but there’s a lot of cases where it absolutely doesn’t, you know, and it just eats away at your identity over time.
W: Because I do wonder as well to what extent problems around mental health and addressing
mental health that men might have is around the expectations of gender that are placed on us by society. And of course expectations of gender are placed on everybody. There are you know, when we look at the the media, when we consume any kind of information, it’s always with very distinct gender definitions sort of embedded within that. And that in itself, I wonder is, I think that’s probably part of the problem, is that society tells us and by society, I I guess I mean, mainly sort of the world of media, what we consume on a daily basis in terms of advertising and creative content etc. There’s, there’s, a very specific idea of how men behave. And I just think that becomes incredibly counterproductive and I don’t know whether that relates to you as well.
J: Yeah, and I think one of the things that I think has really helped men’s mental health, especially in the younger generations, which I think amazing things are happening there because they’re just okay to say, I’m anxious, or I’m, you know, feeling depressed, and I think there is an awful lot to be said about musicians and artists using social media, role models coming out and saying I’m anxious or I’m depressed, or I’ve been through this problem, and I think that is why you now see this conversation happening in the younger generations because it’s just been normalised. The shame has been taken out of it because the role models are coming forward and saying yeah you know I’ve got this problem and so yeah you know I think that, that is being challenged but I think the fact that, in my opinion, that’s had such a big effect on the population, the younger population shows that what was existing before was very different you know, but yeah, I do absolutely agree you know, that the, I mean I’m trying to think well, what is the male 21st century identity? I think it’s changed a lot since my parents’ generation with the growth of the internet. I think that’s massively changed the landscape of what it means to be a man in our world.
You know, like I mentioned briefly before, the men in my family, the grafters, you know,
they go to work, they graft hard, they come home and they enjoy themselves after work.
You know, that’s, that’s what it is, you know, and if you’re not doing that, you know, the man
um, well, your masculinity is questionable or there’s something odd, you know. So yeah, there absolutely is that expectation but I think you know, the millennial generation is super torn because they’re, like well, we’ve got we’ve got conflicting ideas of masculinity now. So what’s the right one? So yeah, I do, absolutely. I can relate to that. Absolutely. Yeah on many fronts.
W: I remember seeing a YouTube video a while ago and it was a really sort of an inverted commas “macho guy” talking about sexual insecurities and I thought bloody hell good on you mate, (laughter) because I also wonder, and I purposely use the word wonder, because I don’t know, it’s just, I just wonder as well to what extent there’s a psychosexual element quite often to
men’s mental health.
J: Honestly, the amount of, the need for men to be attractive to women and the lengths that they’ll go to, to craft an identity to ensure that is huge. I don’t think it’s spoken about enough. But I think that drive to be the ‘attractive male’, especially when younger, is so big, you know, it will, it will encourage you to suppress things, it will make you want to enhance other things and I think it’s absolutely massive, massive. I spoke, when I was at school, it was massive, you know.
W: Ellie I’m just wondering if you had any thoughts or questions?
E: Yeah lots of thoughts and questions. I’ve actually been writing notes because it’s just really interesting. I think that it’s important to have a disclaimer that in this conversation, what you guys are talking about is cis men who are straight and in like a Western environment, that’s who we’re talking about in this particular conversation when you say, you know, what it means to be a man of masculinity and things, because I have conversations with other friends about the specific types of like toxic masculinity within the sort of young gay adult male community as well and it’s potentially very different expectations but it’s the similar thing.
W: I think that’s a really, really good point and I guess it links in with what I guess, I was trying to say earlier with, that kind of, there are certain expectations wherever they may come from about what it even means to be a “man”, in inverted commas and so I think that therefore it’s, you know it’s, it’s, there are certain quite rigid definitions out there, which I think are still there, very present within media in our everyday lives, which kind of tell us this is the way that you’re supposed to be. So I think it’s, yeah, I think that there is that question of what it means to be, what masculinity even means for, even for cis heterosexual men like me. I think there is that question at all times as as well. Not, obviously I’m not suggesting it’s necessarily the same extent, but it’s there. It’s certainly there.
E: Yeah, definitely. And I think actually what you were saying about how the younger generation are just like, we have seen a massive improvement in talking about mental health in general, and including male mental health like in the last, I don’t know, what, 10, 15 years? Obviously it’s still a long way to go, but I think a lot of that is like tied into the kind of, it is part of the LGBT movement in a way because young people’s ideas of sort of male/female now are a lot more fluid. It’s like more standard amongst a lot of young people to not see that distinction as completely binary in a way that even when we were teenagers it was, was still seen as completely binary with sort of no question marks. And I think you’re right about there’s so many sort of celebrities and people that well, that the kind of guys that you’re talking about, so sort of straight cis guys, who they look up to are now like talking about these things, like when Danny Rose was talking about it the footballer and things like that, and more men sort of, yeah, talking about the mental health but also coming out as gay or like dressing in a more like metrosexual kind of feminine way, that’s all like become part of cool. It’s a type of cool and I think that that is kind of new. Well, not totally new, because you had the 80s but…
W: And do you think that bodes well for the future in terms of feeling less need to gender the conversation?
W: and gender the experience of mental health that actually, that will help people however they identify?
E: Yeah absolutely and like 10 years ago, obviously I work in the third sector and with lots of like
LGBT sort of pride organisations so, but a lot of organisations now will put for example, their pronouns in their email signature and I can’t even imagine that happening like five or ten years ago. But yeah, I do think it’s good and when you said that about young people, the younger generation just sort of already being so much better at talking about stuff than we were, it felt like an actual sense of pride, like we as adults have actually done something good for that generation. And yeah, the the only other thing I wanted to say was that when you were talking about psychosexual stuff, I finished watching Sex Education recently and I just kept thinking that I would be so happy if my teenagers were watching that and loads of teenagers watch it, but it deals with a lot of those like, weird unspoken things, that especially from the kind of men that you guys were talking about, don’t want to talk about and have such a great fear of and and it’s such a taboo. So I think even just programmes like that are making a really big difference.
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Now back to the show.
W: And Jake, can you just take us through this, some of the work that you’ve been doing such as, you were part of a men’s discussion group and, and can you just take us through that and take us through how how that worked and what the benefits were and what the challenges were for that matter?
J: I’ve been in three over the years. The first one I was involved in was mainly older guys. I was definitely the youngest there and this probably was going back to 2018. So we would meet once a month, which I felt we needed to meet more regularly, but we met once a month at that group. And yeah, there was a… it was actually a, a group created on the back of some teachings by a very, kind of enlightened Christian vicar. He was not a, not a priest, a Catholic priest, called Father Richard Raw, an American guy and he wanted to bring back the kind of rights of passage, cultural practice. So men at a certain age would go through these rights and it would birth them into manhood. And, but you know, in an in an enlightened way not in a, you know, but he said this, you know, he tried to create this and so this men’s group, which is an international organisation is built around these rites of passage, so they do them every year when you go to the groups you know you apply to do the rites of passage and then you do that and then…
E: What are the rites of passage?
J: Well I’ve, I’ve not done it, and they won’t tell you what is involved in it until you’ve done it as well. So you’ve got to do it to know what is what it is basically.
But it sounds, you know, it could take off. I, I value the vision a lot. I don’t know whether the reality is, I’ve heard some mixed things about it. You know, a lot of guys saying, well, they weren’t, they didn’t feel they were quite ready for it. It was quite intense. They would like to do it again, this kind of thing. But the vision of it, I’m, I’m super into that. So this was the first one. And I’ve been in therapy a little bit by this point and so I was kind of okay talking about things. And yeah, you know it was interesting. I think I’d missed out a little bit on, you know, being the youngest guy there. A lot of the guys were a lot older, but, you know, it also exposed me to a lot of people that I kind of thought, well, these people, in terms of cultural expectations and ideas, shouldn’t have mental health problems. Like, there was an ex-surgeon there. These are the kind of people you think, well, they’re so smart maybe these people don’t get mental health problems, you know? but he was there, you know. So I met different people and it started to change my mind a little bit about the, you know, who gets this and who doesn’t. Is it about being not smart? Is it about being, you know, what is it really about? you know, and I think these are some of the questions that, you know, went through my mind when I was on my journey, you know. Why has this happened to me? you know What does that mean about me? you know, does that mean I’m not intelligent? you know. It started to open my mind a little bit about, you know, the different kinds of people who were affected by it.
So the second group that I was involved in, so I was in Abu Dhabi for the second period of lockdown in COVID. My mother lives there and I, you know, I went to stay there with her for six months and one of her neighbours, he was just starting a men’s group. So I got involved with that, would meet every week. And so that was the second one. Again, there was a lot of older guys there. And then, you know, when I got back to the UK, that’s when I kind of got involved with a with a, a men’s group with younger guys involved in it. And a couple of them have been in psychiatric services, a couple of them have had, you know, quite serious mental health crises at some point. The guy who runs it has been working with people with mental health issues for a long time. It was a space where we could just, you know, talk about it. It’s that simple. It wasn’t a revelation for me personally, purely because I’d been in services for a while. So my sense of mental health was, I’d learned a lot already, you know? So I wasn’t at the beginning of that journey, but I think a lot of the guys kind of, kind of, were. So I think I got something a little bit different out of it. It gave me a sense of what would I like to see this become in the future, how could you develop something like that to, to, grow it? So it evolves with the people in it, you know. So that was really my, you know, what I was interested in and observing in that group. But you know, it just gave people the opportunity to to come and talk and to vent and to cry if they needed to cry. But yeah, you know, it’s kind of strange really because, you know, when I was in my crisis situation, I was so isolated. And when I came out of that kind of isolation. I went, you know, I met a lot of men, you know, I met an awful lot of men and so it wasn’t shocking to me to hear these guys talking about the problems and their emotions and it wasn’t shocking to me, it might be shocking to a lot of people, who’ve never had that experience, but it was almost like I went into this isolation, I came out and I was birthed into a new world, you know completely. Yeah it was a very important part of our lives for a while and, it’s you know, it’s kind of changed a bit now, different people are involved in it, some people who were involved in it are not involved in it anymore, but you know, I’m sure they’re all very much still involved in the mental health journeys and yeah you know it’s it was just a good place to feel like you know, embrace the wholer parts of your person. It was great. And there’s another group in Manchester called Andy’s Man’s Club, which I’ve been there once. And again, it’s just full of guys you just would not expect to see in that kind of environment. And even just going there and seeing these guys, you know, from all different walks of life and something will change, something changes in you when you see these guys in, in, that position.
E: Men’s Mental Health Week is often people talking about, no men talk about their mental health or whatever, but you’ve obviously been to like, quite a lot of groups and things, so I was just wondering, like ,what do you think going from that time of like profound crisis and complete isolation, to then going and you were able to come out of that into these like, safe, sort of men’s spaces, what would you have done if they weren’t there?
J: I probably would have ended up in hospital
J: Yeah, absolutely, yeah I would have. I would have, it’s not easy to get into hospital, let me just say that. But that would have been, and this is a bit of a taboo conversation to have, but you know, I’m quite, I’m confident in saying it, but I’m also cautious in saying it because I would never want to deter anybody from having a conversation with the GP. But, because of some of my symptoms, I avoided having the conversation with my GP for a long time, because I was worried about what the, conclusions that they would draw based off that conversation. Now, there are some incredible people working in the NHS, but it’s, it can be, it can be tough. I think it’s important to say it can be really tough going on that journey with the NHS and I’ve met an awful lot of people who feel very abandoned by them. Unfortunately these guys are the people, are the people, you know, are the people with the more extreme manifestations of mental, I don’t like the word mental illness, but you know, mental health problems. And they’re generally just medicated and left. And there are options for therapy, but there’s usually long waiting lists and its time limited as well.
I’ve got a cousin who has been working in the NHS as a therapist and she’s just left because she was under so much pressure to be at a certain point with these people after eight weeks. It’s just that, I just can’t do it. It’s just too much. So she’s left. And I think if you, kind of, again, I’m super aware that there’s people who will not be able to afford it, but if you can afford it, go private. That’s my opinion on that. ‘Cause it can be really difficult and it can be quite soul destroying going through the NHS process. And like I said, I, I’m, what I don’t wanna do is deter people from making a choice to do something like that if it’s going to help them and I would never discourage that, but I think it’s also important to call the NHS out and say you know, not enough, it’s not, you’re not even nearly enough, you know, it’s, I don’t know what it is, if it’s a lack of therapists or a lack of money or a lack of belief that it’s needed I don’t know what it is but there’s a real problem there. And yeah so another reason why these groups are so helpful because they’re not, you don’t have to wait for six months to get in to see them, you know. You can go straight away and get some relief you know, and some support straight away, which is why I think they are so important. Otherwise, what you’re going to be doing, you’re going to be sat at home for six months, minimum waiting for a CBT spot, you know, it’s like, and, and maybe you’ve got a trauma history, you know, maybe you don’t even know you’ve got a trauma history and maybe CBT is not gonna work for you. Maybe you need something more intensive like an EMDR process, you know, but how long is it gonna be before you’re on that, on the NHS? Maybe you’ve got to go through CBT process first and then go through the, you know, then you’ve got to jump through hoops at the minute.
W: So Jake, can I just ask a sort of a final question? I guess, and linked into what you’ve been talking about is, if you could see one big change moving forward in the future, say in a year’s time, in two years time, what would it be?
J: The research market needs to be flooded with more non-medication based research.
W: Just add in here that Ellie was cheering at that, sorry just needed to mention that.
E: Yeah that was my cheer.
W: You can’t hear that on the podcast.
J: I’m definitely not anti-medication. There is a place for it and I just don’t like the idea of only using medication and not using anything else because it doesn’t heal, you know, it suppresses symptoms. So I think it should be used in conjunction with other things. Although I acknowledge as well that there are some people out there with, you know, quite extreme manifestations of their condition. They’ll need it, you know, but not everybody’s in that group, yet they’re all kind of treated in the same way. So I think that’s what I have a big problem with is some people who would benefit from psychological therapies are only being given medication and they’re not being given the psychological therapies. You know, we’re a research-based NHS and a, a, science-based NHS and I have no issue with that. So long as the research is being done in, on the scale that it needs to be done in you know, otherwise, you’ve got people saying,
“well, you know, we’ve got all of this research coming from the pharmaceutical companies saying this drug does this, this drug does that, this drug does this.”
And then we’ve got so much research being done by, you know, Manchester Uni or whatever university. And listen, all these universities are competing with each other for money for their research projects. The pharmaceutical companies have funded it themselves, they don’t have the same competitive environment. So we need more research in the, in the, because that’s how the NHS is going to grow. That’s how the service base is going to grow in the public, you know, public services.
E: That’s like the first step because there is a lot of research especially, like, around hearing voices stuff. There’s been like, what, 40 years now of, like, so much research, such a huge evidence base, it just isn’t being implemented into our healthcare even though there’s what 50, how many more years do you need of evidence alternative approaches to interpreting psychosis are important and help, can help people recover, but still it’s not part of the NICE guidelines of how you treat someone with experiencing a period of mental ill health. It’s like even when the research is there they’re not implementing it in the services that we provide.
J: And I think we need to, there’s some people going, going to disagree with this, but I think unfortunately we’re in a situation where people have got to embrace the social responsibility and start to provide services, unfortunately voluntarily, for people that they can access instantly. And it’s happening, it’s happening in Manchester and I’m sure it’s happening other places as well and, you know, eventually what can we say, we can turn around and say well, “look at what we’re doing already”, “this is what you need to be doing”, and you know I’m aware of some projects that were created on the grassroots that the NHS has turned around and said, you know what, would like to give you some money to keep doing that, you know, because it’s really working and you’re doing something we’re struggling to do, so we’ll give you some money for that. But I think it’s important to create the thing first so that the the guys in charge can look at it and say right, that’s something we want more of so let’s fund it or let’s give them some money or let’s let’s publicise it in some way.
So there’s two things, more research, you need to develop the NHS, the only way it’s going to be developed is through science-based research. I don’t have a problem with that, I think it’s great as long as enough of it’s been done. And then we need to just start doing stuff for our neighbours. We need some more groups, more communities. We’re hoping to win a group, a voice dialoging group with a therapist who’s agreed to do it for free. And I think unfortunately, I’m not, we’re not asking her to give up crazy amounts of time for free, but she’s willing to give up an hour every two weeks for our group. People can do this. It’s not a lot of time and people can do it. And I think it just, it just needs to be done. Where we’re at at the minute, it just needs to be done. And I don’t have a problem with political campaigning, but what I do value is “let’s just do something now”, “let’s just create something” and then it’ll, it’ll fuel the campaign and it’ll, it’ll be a catalyst for it. But I don’t think we can afford to just, only, campaign to government and say we want this changing and we want this changing. I think we need to just start doing it.
W: So a big thank you to Jake there for a fascinating conversation. I thought the stuff he was saying towards the end there, Ellie, was really really interesting. This idea of on the one hand, we, we should be campaigning for better mental health services on the other, is there a responsibility within communities for people to offer support for, as Jake puts it, their, their neighbours?
E: It’s super interesting and I don’t know, I guess I’ve always been involved in both, like actively campaigning, but also volunteering and working within the community. I think they’re both needed in order for change to happen, aren’t they? Because if we don’t campaign for policy change, then all of those systemic and industrial scale problems aren’t going to change. But also that is a long process and with people’s lives that we’re talking about. And we can’t afford to not do anything else in the meantime. But I think different people have different skill sets and things, don’t they? So, you know, as long as we balance out those roles between all of us, all of us in the world, so you have people campaigning, but you also really do need, you know, people
checking in on one another and looking after their neighbours.
W: It made me think of this idea of community, local community, and the impact that that has
broadly, no, more broadly speaking on people’s mental health as well. Because one thing I’m very aware of is, you know, I grew up in an area of Newcastle, which from the outside, a lot of people would say it was quite rough, quite a lot of challenges. For me, you know, it was, growing up there, happiest days of me life. And a large reason for that was because of, you know, people talk glibly about community spirit, but this was real community spirit. It was very real. It was very raw. People really did look out for each other. And there was that sense of togetherness and that sense of belonging. What I gathered from Jake describing some of the work that he does, he is playing an, an important role I think in helping to build communities of belonging and places where people feel at ease at home and able to be themselves and be honest and open.
E: The creation and sustaining of communities requires effort across the board doesn’t it? So basically there’s this quote from an ancient sage that Rabbi Robin says every week and it’s just stuck in my head and it’s “Hilal” said “do not turn your back on your community”, because it’s tempting to turn back on your community when you’re struggling and finding things difficult. It’s easier to withdraw inwards and separate yourself from the community. But that’s actually when you need community the most. Like it forever drives me mad that we are such a rich country and here we are relying on people who are already struggling to volunteer their time and emotional labour to provide services that should be being provided in my opinion, by the welfare state. And so that’s another big problem I have with a lot of the rhetoric around community things, especially as we’re living in a cost of living crisis and day to day life is becoming so difficult for everyone. It’s not fair to expect additional unpaid work from a community that is struggling to sustain itself, let alone help anyone else.
W: I couldn’t agree more. And it kind of ties in quite neatly with the conversation that we had in our opening episode where you and I talked about how we frame our mental health challenges, where we did sort of talk about this problem that the sort of self-help culture around mental health.
W: is in large part perhaps to do with it having to be that way because the funding of mental health provision is so poor.
W: And I think there’s a lot, I think. But as always, it’s never always one thing or always the other, I think. But there’s definitely the yeah, it’s a massive issue, isn’t it? Massive issue.
W: But it’s not only about providing mental health support, as you just mentioned, it’s about welfare more broadly. It’s about public services more broadly, because people who are the most vulnerable are those who are most likely to need support of the public services. So it kind of has this ricochet effect, doesn’t it? way beyond just the confines of “mental health services”.
E: Yeah, but having said that, I do remember, that because of my various health conditions I had been shielding for the whole pandemic and pretty much as soon as I moved into my council flat where I am now, I got Covid for the first time. I hadn’t even met most of the people in the building or my neighbours because I’d literally been there a few weeks. I think I’d posted on a Facebook group to say “Oh, I’ve I’ve got Covid if anyone’s going to the shops or if there’s a delivery outside can you just knock on something like that. I then received cards through my letterbox. People added me on Facebook and phoned me every time they were going to Aldi asking if I wanted anything. I was obviously, had a fever and was very poorly, and I remember I think I said to one person I’m not eating very much but I’m just craving a lot of chocolate. I then was having a nap and I woke up to this massive crash and I’ve got a photo of it somewhere but I went into the hallway and they’d post, this neighbour who I’d never met, had posted like 15 Cadbury’s chocolate bars through my letterbox for me and there was just a big pile of them and that was really beautiful and I remember feeling so happy because I felt like well, as if I needed any more evidence that I’m finally living somewhere that’s sort of got an established and welcoming community.
W: Well, you know what? That’s a lovely thing to finish the episode on, isn’t it?
E: Yeah. And everyone should just go and put chocolate bars through people’s doors if they can.
W: OK, well, thank you so much, everybody, for listening. In next week’s show, we’re going to be talking with clinical psychologist Karen Lowinger about high functioning mental health problems.
W: My name is Will.
E: My name is Ellie.
W: and you’ve been listening to Lively Minds, the Mental Health Podcast. And we look forward to seeing you. I keep on saying, seeing you next time. We’re not going to see you next time, obviously, but you get me drift. Yeah. Bye bye.