Week nine of lockdown in the UK, and chances are you’re probably feeling a little fed up of the many twee commercials of face-timing families referring to the ‘new normal’. But whilst we may wonder what seeing people Zoom each other in fancy-dress has to do with selling us soap, there is no denying that the current situation is both unprecedented and concerning.
Whatever your situation, lockdown will have meant more time spent at home, and less time partaking in social activities or situations. This change in life’s rhythm can be challenging, particularly when it comes to your mental wellbeing. Covid-19 has led to a new way for us to be, and as such there is no right way to feel.
This week – 18-24 May – is Mental Health Awareness Week. Run by the Mental Health Foundation since 2001 it is a period used to raise awareness of mental health and mental health problems nationally and inspire action to promote the message of good mental health for all.
It’s believed that as many as one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. And at the Southbank Centre, particularly in the last decade, we’ve hosted a number of talks and events from a wide range of personalities who have faced difficulties with their mental health; from anxiety to depression, to struggling to find their place in a complex world.
As part of this Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ve surfaced some of these talks from our archives, to show you that not only is it good to talk and share, but that mental health can affect any one of us, in many different ways. You are never alone.
As part of our 2017 Being A Man festival, comedian, presenter and author Simon Amstell joined us to talk about his life. In this entertaining video Amstell talks to our Head of Literature & Spoken Word, Ted Hodgkinson, about how embracing his own truths helped him to overcome his own personal anxieties.
US comic Rob Delaney is perhaps best best known in the UK as the star and writer of Channel 4's hit comedy Catastrophe. But in 2016 he joined us here at the Southbank Centre for our Changing Minds festival, which explored mental health and the arts. In this frank podcast recording from the festival Delaney discusses depression and mental health with Andrew Hankinson, author of You Could Do Something Amazing With Your Life (You Are Raoul Moat).
It’s often said, indeed I’ve written it in this blog’s introduction, that there is no right way to feel. There is no manual for the human body. Well, that’s not strictly true, as in 2018 the actress and comedian Ruby Wax, with the help of a neuroscientist and a monk, wrote one. In How to Be Human, Wax seeks to answer every question you've ever had about: evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, sex, kids, the future and compassion. And in 2018 she joined her friend Helena Kennedy QC, here at the Southbank Centre to talk about it.
Recorded in 2019, this episode of our Book Podcast features Matt Haig talking to Bryony Gordon about his book Notes on a Nervous Planet, a personal look at living with anxiety in the age of social media. And we also hear from musician and campaigner Jordan Stephens – perhaps better known as one half of the hip hop duo Rizzle Kicks – in discussion with Ted Hogkinson about the relationship between mental health and creativity.
In 2016, the rapper and ambassador for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), Professor Green, appeared at our Being A Man festival in conversation with our then Artistic Director, Jude Kelly. Whilst here, he spoke frankly about his father's suicide, the work he's done to raise awareness of male suicide and the emotional challenges that often face men, particularly in relation to expressing their emotions.
Shame, or indeed a feeling of being somehow unworthy, bad or wrong, can have a profound effect on our mental health, when it comes to the way in which we see ourselves. It is also an emotion which has been used as a means of control over women for decades. At 2017’s Women of the World festival we addressed this topic in a discussion event chaired by the journalist Rosie Boycott. This podcast of that event also features Jasvinder Sanghera CBE, founder of Karma Nirvana, which supports victims of honour crimes and forced marriages; journalist Róisín Ingle of The Irish Times, and survivor of prostitution and activist Fiona Broadfoot from Build a Girl.
This last talk comes from our 2015, Being A Man festival and features Professor of Men, Gender & Health, Steve Robinson, comedians David Baddiel and Jake Mills, author Matt Haig and founder of CALM, Jane Powell. Over the course of an hour the panel discuss their own experiences of depression and mental health, and the many stigmas around the concept of men in particular, opening up about their mental health.
If you are concerned that you are developing a mental health problem, the Mental Health Foundation encourages you to seek advice and support from your GP immediately. If this is not possible, they also signpost to a number of other organisations who can offer you support.
As a charity, we rely on ticket sales for a huge chunk of our income. But now they’ve stopped. And it's a huge worry to us, and the people we work with. We all need the escape of art and culture; it can inspire and unite us. So please – if you can afford to – consider a donation to the Southbank Centre today, to help us be there for you in the future.
The show must go on(line)
Sadly, for everyone’s safety, our venues are currently closed. But you can still get your Southbank Centre fix online. We will continue to share inspiring and thought-provoking arts stories through our website and social channels.