Lisa from D.O.S and myself were invited to speak on BBC Radio Sheffield about our creative sessions and workshops. I was really nervous but feel very pleased that we got to speak about mental health and what we offer on this platform and reach people we might not have otherwise.
Before we went in we were talking about how anyone can start something just as we have. If you have an idea you want to share, you can just set it up and go for it! If anyone is interested in running sessions or trying something out please get in touch with Lisa or myself. We are very lucky to live in a city where the venues and people have supported us. As I said in my last post, I owe a lot to the people at CADS for giving me time and space to develop Free Hand.
Designing Out Suicide’s next workshop is Pot and Plant on the 5th March at Theatre Deli. I can’t wait, I enjoy having plants in my home. It’s strange the sense of peace they create, I love being outside and if I can bring the outside in that makes me very happy. Come and join me and pot some plants. I will be the one covering EVERYTHING in glitter!
I hope you enjoy listening to us speak – be part of the conversation, you’ll be surprised by how many people understand what you feel!
Toby Foster: (…) We started talking about mental health concerns on Monday, and the phones just rang of their hooks. It’s something that’s really resonated with lots of people – and of course it would! We never tire of saying it on here – 1 in 4 of us, 1 in 4 will have to deal with mental health issues. Why we don’t talk about it every day is beyond me.
Yesterday we heard about a project in Doncaster who helps people get and retain work. Laura Nylon talked to us from Big Ambitions, a social enterprise.
When Lisa O’Hara from Sheffield decided to set up a created project for other women suffering with mental health issues. She’s here with Charly who we’ll speak to in a moment. Lisa – what was happening to you – you were faced with the threat of losing your job weren’t you.
Lisa: Yeah, well this would also mean that I would lose funding for university. This would obviously change my life quite significantly so I kind of came to terms with the fact that I would lose my job and there’d be a chance that I wouldn’t find another. At the time the project that I was working on at university was about vulnerability. So I kind of threw myself into that and in response came up with a project themed around suicide. Suicide is one of the biggest killers of men in the UK but suicidal ideations and suicide attempts are much higher in women which I feel kind of adds to the idea of a stigma…
Toby: Just tell me how you got to ‘suicide’ were these feelings that you were having?
Lisa: Well I guess it’s quite a big thing to say on radio, but it’s absolutely something, yes, that I’ve thought about before. I think it’s something that’s overlooked quite a lot with mental health. It’s something that can pass through your mind if you are feeling really low – it’s quite a common thing that people think about – even daily.
Toby: So tell me what you decided to do?
Lisa: I spoke to my friend, who is a mental health nurse, I kind of was trying to gauge if there was a call for this kind of thing, she said that would be really positive thing to set up the peer support element of it. Also I spoke to LaDIYfest who is a feminist activist group in Sheffield to see what their response was. They were really amazing and helped me put the first call out to for responses to a zine.
Toby: And what kind of response did you get?
Lisa: I got a massive response really, the people in that initial meeting were positive about this kind of thing existing – there’s actually another zine for men that exists called CalmZINE which is brilliant and I’d recommend anyone to take a look at that, but yeah the response to that meeting really gave me the reassurance I needed to go ahead with it and progress the project.
Toby: So what are your workshops like then? Designing out suicide – what is it that you do?
Lisa: We kind of just get together over a theme, it doesn’t have to be creative but that’s just the type of thing that I am able to set up for people, like a platform for this creativity to occur, creative responses to anything at all. The idea of it is just ‘come along, have a chat, have a cup of tea and do something creative whilst maybe talking about what problems you’ve been having and share your experiences.
Toby: We’ve been doing something on voluteering and we’ve been going down to a lunch club at St Mary’s on Bramall Lane, this is for the over 50’s, and people who just want company. They just go along and chat and make christmas cards and the like – isn’t amazing how sitting down and doing something and chatting can really be a catalyst for all sorts of stuff. With us also is Charly, of Free Hand Creative, tell us what you do Charly?
Charly: So I run weekly sessions that have themes, so the last one were all to do with sewing, ones before that were printing – so I try to have a general theme. I run them every week for 6 weeks and have 1 week off. And then go back into them. It’s a similar thing to Lisa. It’s sort of peer support through creative activity. When people are focussed on doing something in front of them. It’s less pressure on you and less focus. In peer support groups, if you have anxiety it can be quite daunting. I’ve been to them, it can be quite difficult for people to speak, they feel like everyone is looking at them and it can cause them to panic. So if you’ve got something to do it’s a lot easier to not have everyone staring at you. it’s a lot less of an intense experience. But it definitely is cathartic.
Toby: And are these sessions born out of your anxiety?
Charly: Yes, definitely. I suffered / lived with depression since my early teens. I self harmed and got better. When I started my masters, out of knowhere, I began having panic attacks. The process of doing my masters and the creative process really helped me, to put all that into something positive and I felt really good about myself at the end of it. I realised that it was that what I wanted to provide for other people.
Toby: one of the things I think we’ve tried to get across this week is that people need to realise what they have is a mental health condition, or some kind of condition. Some people just think it’s the way of the world. Well look at you two, to me, an old , you look like two young confident women. Who have not only have you come on the radio and spoken but you’ve also set up your own enterprises, you’ve got the bull by the horns. THere’s no way that you could be depressed or have social anxiety but of course you are and you have and this is everywhere and that’s what people don’t realise. People can be very capable and may also be dealing with this.
Charly: I think the more that you talk to people, I’m really open about it now, but as soon you do open up to people about it you do get people responding with comments like “yeah, me too” and you sometimes you just would never think it of people. It affects everyone really.
Lisa: It’s so common. I think it’s really surprising that there is this stigma still today. The amount of people who really really do suffer find this talking about it so much more useful.
Toby: The official figure 1 in 4, the amount of people who bottle it up probably means it’s much higher. Lisa and Charly, thanks for coming in. Thank you.