Mental health and the stigma surrounding it has historically been a topic avoided by many. Although its presence is rarely mentioned, mental health issues affect one in six adults at some point in their lives, yet so many people suffer silently. Last week Mindful Bristol decided to make some noise.
The Crofters Rights was taken over by a collective of some of Bristol’s most established and up and coming DJ’s, producers & labels in a collaborative effort to raise money for The Mental Health Foundation. Their aim was to inspire and encourage a relaxed environment where people could speak freely, while taking some time to unwind. The venue filled out steadily, and a continuous flow of diverse music ensued. Studies show that music releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical and is regularly ‘prescribed’ to patients suffering with depression or similar mental health issues, therefore it seems only natural that the two should go hand in hand. Every penny made from tickets sales also went straight to The Mental Heath Foundation, an added testament to the selflessness of those involved in hosting the night.
Among the people who made the night possible; Cubana, Take Off, Sprung, Super Kitchen, Free Range & In The Dance, is Eoin Still. Founder of Mindful Bristol; a music events brand collaborating with the people of Bristol to fund raise for metal health causes, Eoin was the man who put the night into motion. Subsource caught up with him to talk about the motivation behind hosting the event, his views on mental health issues and how society can educate and inspire a generation to embrace and overcome these issues collectively.
Mental health is a controversial topic avoided by many, although almost everyone at some point in their lives will undoubtedly suffer from some form of mental health issue. What inspired you to advocate its importance?
..Avoided by many, though experienced by us all in some way, shape or form. Whether we’re conscious of it or entirely comfortable with admitting it, we have all been affected by mental health issues, large or small, experiencing them ourselves, or being close to someone who has or currently is. It’s all too common for people who are experiencing problems to find it increasingly difficult because of the lack of general awareness and/or knowledge people have on the subject. It also makes it difficult for a partner, friend or relative to know what to do or how to help to support their loved ones in the best way possible. We believe that pushing things forward to enable people to be a lot more aware of the ins and outs of it can enable people to know how to prevent ill mental health as well as knowing the best way to help remedy it if things are taking a turn for the worse.
What do you think is wrong with the perception of mental health illnesses and how do you think your contribution can help towards the cause?
It’s still a taboo subject that’s generally looked down upon, but it can be difficult to grasp if you haven’t experienced it first or at least second hand. The majority of people will describe ill mental health by upper level, permanent disorders such as bipolar or schizophrenia, although anxiety and depression are the two most common forms of ill mental health. In a study by the NHS in 2014, they estimated that 1 in 6 people experience a mental health problem per week. Taboo as it may be we can’t escape how common it is and how much of an issue it is for a large amount of people in everyday society. As it’s never taught in schools, it’s the kind of thing that you would ultimately have to research yourself to learn about. As a result, people don’t tend to recognize or accept it, if at all, until they believe it’s effecting their life so much that they need to take it seriously. We hope that we can invite people to our events to be in an environment they enjoy, while possibly enabling them to talk about mental health issues constructively, and to maybe even go on to read more about it which could positively benefit themselves and others. An important point of the event is that entry is granted with a donation to a chosen mental health charity. Studies show that people who focus their attention on personal growth as well as helping others, tend to have more vitality, more happiness, less depression and less anxiety. This not only helps these organizations towards helping people and raising awareness on a national level but also gives everybody a chance to play their part in benefitting other people.
It’s inspiring to see the younger generation coming together and challenging this head on, you’ve got a lot of Bristol’s established and most up and coming nights/labels involved, why do you think there has been so much support for this event?
I think the promoters that were kind enough to be involved in last nights’ event can understand the importance of mental health, especially within the music industry. We’re really thankful for their support.
I’d say for the most part that it’s the relation that people can have to the subject. I think anyone that has gone through or experienced difficulties themselves, naturally doesn’t want others to have to go through them and will try to help prevent them the best that they can. If people can come to our events and we can get them in the right frame of mind to be able to casually talk about these issues with friends and others constructively, as well as enjoying themselves with people they love and having a little dance at the end of it then we’re happy.
After the success of last night, will you be planning any other similar events?
We have plans to keep it going, keeping the same idea in which 100% of the proceeds go toward a different mental health cause or charity with each event. Bristol has an unbelievable roster of talent in the form of artists, so we’d really like to see who would be up for playing for a charitable cause. We’re also trying to think of really interesting but subtle ways in which we can get people positively talking and learning about mental health at the event. While this is essentially a music event in a semi-club environment, we’re not trying to market this as an all out party. We want people to have a dance to some great music and enjoy themselves with their friends but we want to go the step further to try and achieve something different on top of that. We hope we can really get people to want to be able to connect with each other and to have a great time while really coming together and possibly learning a beneficial thing or two so they can really take something away from attending.
Finally what would you say is the one thing people could do to contribute, in helping society better understand and resolve the stigma surrounding mental health issues?
Ideally, if people were willing to read up and learn about it as well as talking to each other to help support each other and understand things a little better, it would do everyone a world of good. We strongly believe that bringing forward the importance of mental health and well being can really help in maximising peoples chances in general happiness by giving them the chance to know how to prevent or deal with ill mental health in themselves or how to best support a family member, a friend or a partner that is experiencing difficulties.
Thanks for taking the time Eoin. No one enjoys talking about mental health; it’s a potential rabbit hole that once fallen in to, can be exceptionally difficult to resurface from. It is something that instead of isolating people should create a sense of comfort and encouragement, how can someone feel alone when so many people suffer with the same problems? The problem is no one is articulating it. Speak to someone, anyone. You may be surprised what you find, and if you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by good music, friends and all round good vibes, then you’re laughing.