Sunday 20 May 2018

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek 2018: Finding My Tribe

Today — Saturday, May 19, 2018 — is the day of the Royal Wedding. I wish Harry and Meghan well in their life together but I brought myself out to the coast to avoid the media, and social media, onslaught. It’s just not something I feel a part of. Here at Tynemouth there is calm and space and air and sky and sea. And a bench where I can sit and write.

A week ago I was also writing. Not here but in the café at the city library. At the suggestion of my boss Judith I was drafting a piece about Mental Health Awareness Week for the corporate blog at the company I work for.

I submitted the article on Monday morning. It was published Tuesday lunchtime and to be honest I’ve been blown away by the response. It’s been picked up by management up to and including our CEO. I have a meeting next week with one of the senior managers to explore how I can get involved with the company’s mental health initiatives.

This week has also seen me out twice socially. That’s not a typo — TWICE! Both events were organised for Mental Health Awareness Week. The first was an evening of music, poetry and comedy at the Dun Cow in Jesmond, organised by The Kindness Project NorthEast and Newcastle’s Recovery College Collective.

The second event was a pantomime version of “The Wizard of Oz” at the Cluny in Ouseburn, organised by Laughing Lasses, at which I performed a reading from our book High Tide, Low Tide. I read two of Fran’s poems (“A Wild Hair” and “Urgency”) and excerpts from two of the chapters: “What Is the Secret of Your Friendship?” and “Why Do You Do It?”

The events were a lot of fun and raised much needed funds for local mental health projects. They meant a lot to me on a personal level too. I came away with a stronger sense of belonging than ever before: of belonging to a local community of people who accept me, who are genuine and open, and passionate about making a difference. Borrowing words from Fran, I feel I have found my tribe. And that’s a powerful thing.

I’m confident this new sense of engagement locally is going to complement my involvement in the wider mental health community. Published on May 6 for Mental Health Month, my Q&A interview for It’s Not Your Journey renewed our connection with Rebecca and Joe Lombardo, two tireless and inspirational workers in the mental health arena.

This week Fran and I published the first in a new series of articles by mental health author, speaker and family coach Julie A. Fast. The story of how Julie and I met online and the unfaltering support she’s shown me and Fran over the past five years is worthy of a blog post in itself. For now, I will just say thank you, Julie!

Campaigns such as Mental Health Awareness Week and Mental Health Month attract their share of resistance and criticism for not addressing some of the bigger issues. For me their principal value, and why I support them, is that they bring like-minded — and like-hearted — folk together. That has certainly been my experience. It is in such ways that we build connections, relationships, friendships, communities. It is in such ways that we empower ourselves and each other to address wider concerns and “make a sodding difference.”

In a recent post Fran and I described how we pool our respective skills and experience in our mental health work. Each of us complements and supports the other. It occurs to me that this is a wonderful template for wider collaborations too, and I look forward to whatever the next week, the next month, the next year may bring.

Who’s with me?



  1. Carol D Robinson20 May 2018 at 16:48

    Thanks Marty the books a great read educational realistic what I've read so far Carol

    1. So glad to hear you are enjoying it and finding it helpful, Carol!