Be Well

  • Samara Linton
  • Feruza Afewerki-Abraha
  • Claud Williams
"Being a Practical Dreamer is not easy. Often it means putting everything on the line to climb higher and see further than we ever thought possible. At our 2015 conference, we saw that practical dreaming does not come without its challenges, set-backs and disappointments. We get anxious, stressed and irritable. We doubt ourselves, get frustrated with those around us and can go through low periods.
Those of us who have a mental health problem are more likely to experience such periods of low mental wellbeing than those of who haven’t. Conversely, those prolonged periods of low mental wellbeing, can make us more likely to develop a mental health problem. Mental wellbeing must be a priority in the life of a practical dreamer.
Many of us have heard that one in four of us in the UK experience a mental health problem each year. However, the problem with this figure, like with all statistics, is that it reduces the complexity of the human of experience to a few simple digits. Audre Lorde once said “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” Our identities and places of work, our communities and belief systems, our childhoods and our neighbourhoods all impact our mental health.
Join us for seven days as we explore these different aspects of our lives and how interact with our mental health and wellbeing. I trust you will be inspired and feel a little more equipped, to make mental wellbeing a priority in your life."

View the campaign on the old Dream Nation website.

We sat down with Dean Atta, a popular London poet who has moved audiences with pieces on various topics, such as race and sexuality. Dean has also personally struggled with his own psychological wellbeing and offers up advice for other creatives and Practical Dreamers who may be struggling with their mental wellbeing.
“Now that I’ve grown up, I see how my moods stem back to teenagehood. Looking at it in retrospect, I now know what it was, but back then, I just thought it was a normal part of growing up.”
“I never recognised it as mental health. I just thought ‘sometimes life sucked.’ I didn’t think of it as being in my head, but rather out there in the world, so  I figured if I avoided the world, it’ll all be fixed."... 
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Josh Rivedal writes about his suicide attempt, struggling with depression and his masculinity and using his gifts to help himself and others
Captain’s log, Stardate January 2011. Where many men (4000+ in the UK, 28000+ in the US) have gone before. I’m twenty-six years old and thinking about dying… actually I’m not being entirely truthful. I’m dangling halfway out the fourth floor window of my bedroom in New York City.
I don’t really want to die. I just want the emotional pain to stop… and I don’t know how to do that. Hell, two guys in my life—my father and grandfather—each didn’t know how to make their own terrible personal pain stop and now both were, well, dead....

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Natasha T. Miller opens up about the struggles of being gay and depressed. 
We were young, we were queer, and we were all fighting some form of depression or mental illness, but we were either too afraid or too unaware to address it.  This was my circle of friends, our sexuality already a burden, and we couldn’t afford to add to that burden by accepting the possibility of mental illness as well: So we self medicated, and we became experts at suppression. I can’t tell you for sure whether or not there’s a direct correlation between mental illness and being young and gay, but I can tell you that I was once young, coming into my sexuality, and depressed about it.
One of the problems associated with being young and gay, and possibly fighting mental illness, is that you can’t always tell which direction the illness or depression is coming from.
Am I depressed because I’m gay?...
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Rob Waller explores and highlights the importance of integrating mental health awareness discussions into the Church 
We like to live our lives in boxes – what happens at work is not related to what happens with my boy/girlfriend and similarly is not related to what happens in my church. Most of us want to live integrated lives, but when it comes to integrating ideas like Christianity and mental health problems, there is a pretty poor history of doing it well.
Messages heard in the church community often go like this: “Jesus has sorted out everything and you are meant to be happy” or “If you had enough faith you could make this go away and be healed” and even “Let us focus on evangelism  – what goes on in your head is irrelevant”...

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Growing up I knew little about the homeless but I was taught never to give them my money because “they would just smoke it away”  and in the same breath I was taught not to  talk to strangers. But growing up I had a tickling compassion for the rough sleepers I saw daily in London. When I closed my eyes and thought of what London would look like in one singular image, the homeless were always in focus. I was five when an aunt pointed out that the homeless man I wanted to give my pocket money to had better shoes than I. I believe this comment was designed to sway me but it only confirmed what I already knew to be true: I saw myself in the homeless.

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A significant source of stress in our lives can be our place of work. There are few working environments more stressful than the world of a venture capitalist, so we spoke with Brad Feld, partner at Venture Capital firm Foundry Group and co-founder of start-up accelerator program Techstars about his experiences of mental health and what it means to be well.

Chama Kay talks about what it is like to openly battle with his mental health in the black community.
I have just spent yet another day sending out more job applications than I care to count. A story shared by many a young person up and down the country, particularly many a black young person up and down the country. Numerous studies have painted a bleak picture on the employability prospects young of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) folk in the UK. This is despite providing, per capita, a more qualified workforce. The obstacles facing young black people in this country are all too evident; far too often I have wondered whether my obviously African name, Chama Kapumpa, has proved the ultimate hindrance to my employability. Living in a society not built for you, the constant knowledge of fighting structural prejudice means it appears easier to not introduce further obstacles in the battle of successful assimilation. And few things are more of an uncomfortable obstacle than the issue of mental health...

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Dr Ahmed Hankir MBChB is a Research Fellow of Bedfordshire Center for Mental Health Research in Association with Cambridge University and Global Clinical Scholar with Harvard Medical School. Dr Hankir is the creator of The Wounded Healer, an anti-stigma intervention targeted at medical professionals which he has delivered to audiences all over the world and for which he was shortlisted for the 2015 Royal College of Psychiatrists Communicator of the Year Award.
“It might not matter so much what kind of disease the person has, but rather what kind of person has the disease. So some people may arrive in an outpatient clinic in a wheelchair and they might, for example, be quadriplegic. They may even have locked in syndrome but actually feel well themselves. Whereas somebody might present with a mild exacerbation of acne and he or she might feel severely depressed. So what wellness means to an individual is quite relative”.

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