16 January 6:30pm–9:30pm
#AngstFest – Misery Loves Company
Rainy, cold and dark. It well and truly felt like Blue Monday outside, but inside the ustwo studio #AngstFest was under way and the atmosphere felt warm and inviting. The mood was set with vibrant cocktails (alcohol-free of course), top-notch Moodnotes swag and a crowd of people ready to share and celebrate the diversity of their mental health experiences – or, as compère Laura Jane Williams put it, ‘the rainbow of mental health’.
With all of the panelists coming from vastly different backgrounds and industries, but all having grappled personally with mental health issues, the conversation was both confessional and companionable. The evening was about making the audience feel less alone, providing anecdotal advice and encouraging more informal conversations about wellbeing.
Daisy Buchanan is an author, journalist and broadcaster, the WBWA Lifestyle Writer Of The Year and the UKDA 2015 Dating Writer of the Year. She’s Grazia’s agony aunt and regularly contributes to The Pool, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Times, Glamour, Stylist, Marie Claire, Red and more. She has written and spoken candidly about her experiences of living with an anxiety disorder. Her newest book, HOW TO BE A GROWN UP, published by Headline, is coming in April 2017.
Laura Jane Williams
Laura Jane Williams is the author of cult Amazon bestseller BECOMING: Sex, Second Chances and Figuring Out Who The Hell I Am, and has another book on the way. She’s Grazia magazine’s dating columnist, and has written about love, lust and her feelings everywhere from The Guardian to RED to Buzzfeed, The Metro, Stylist and The Telegraph. Laura is also Marie Claire’s #BREAKFREE from Fear ambassador for 2016.
Roshni Goyate is a born and bred Londoner, a freelance senior copywriter, a part-time MA student at Birkbeck, and most-recently the co-founder of The Other Box, a platform for increasing diversity in the creative industry. Whichever hat she’s wearing, anxiety and imposter syndrome are never far away. Winter is her least favourite time of the year.
Joel is the general manager of Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), a registered charity which exists to prevent male suicide in the UK. In 2014, male suicide accounted for 76% of all suicides and is the single biggest cause of death in men under 45 in the United Kingdom. CALM works to offer support to men in the UK, of any age, through their helpline and website, and works to challenge a culture that prevents men seeking help when they need it.
Calum McSwiggan is the personality behind LGBT+ Lifestyle YouTube channel – Eat, Gay, Love. His videos on gay rights, mental health, sex education and everything inbetween reach over 65,000 subscribers and have been viewed almost six million times. Calum also works for the Terrence Higgins Trust on HIV awareness and education.
Amiera is an academic who’s trying to make a difference. Although her office is at Imperial College London, she can usually be found hanging out in an informal settlement or village in South Asia. She has been doing research with some of the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised people on how their lives are changing under climate change and development. She looks at how living under conditions of vulnerability and violence can affect people’s mental health and quality of life. Amiera is passionate about mental health and wellbeing in the UK, has a degree in Psychology and is on the Board of Mind in Haringey.
Anni Ferguson is a writer and video editor. Her work highlights mental health issues and the effects they can have on people of different backgrounds. Anni has written for the Guardian about how black women struggle with mental health, and recently appeared on Late Night Woman’s Hour to speak about anxiety.
Despite their varied perspectives, themes emerged as the chat progressed. It was evident the panel had common concerns. What language do we use to talk about mental health? How do social pressures and different cultural context shape our attitudes to wellness? How do we reconcile our increased awareness of these issues, with the idea that across society professional and social pressures continue to mount. And, what practices can we adopt to help ourselves and those around us?
Enjoy the podcast of the discussion below: