YoungMinds attends Brisfest
Guest blogger and VIK campaigner Bejal writes about YoungMinds' experience at Brisfest on 22-23 September.
Waking up with the sun and making our way to Bristol, we weren’t sure what the day would entail! Some hours later and the YoungMinds cohort were walking across Ashton Court in Bristol trying to find our pitch for the next two days. Saturday started off with some confusion as to how we were meant to construct the ‘tree’ that had been custom-made for YoungMinds! How many members of YoungMinds does it take to construct a tree of happiness…. Well, apparently 5. Having had to create a makeshift stand as, unbeknownst to us, our table had been stolen before we’d even arrived- we set about getting ready for the gates to open.
The day got off to an encouraging start and as the afternoon went on more and more people started coming our way. We asked people to write down one thing that made them happy on a ‘leaf’, and then add it to our tree of happiness. It was great to see the variety of responses we got- from ‘listening to jazz on a long train journey whilst looking at the countryside scenes’ to ‘good grammar’, to ‘spending time with my best friend Max’, to ‘Borat’ and even ‘a good cup of tea!’.
Using the tree as our focus, we were able to tell people a little more about what YoungMinds does and raise awareness of mental wellbeing. We received a really energetic response and I was really moved by some of the stories we heard when talking to the public. It just goes to show that mental illness can happen to anyone. With 1 in 4 people suffering from a mental health problem at some point in their life, it was clear to see that whether it had been a friend, a child, or themselves, many of the people we met had been affected by mental illness in some way or another.
Not only were we talking with people of all ages and from all walks of life- but we were approached to do a spontaneous interview for an online radio station and given a shout out by the BBC Bristol radio team. Having spent a lot of time recently working with mental health services and young people’s groups dedicated to exploring issues around mental health, it was refreshing to get back to shouting out YoungMinds’ message to the public- that is, mental health is on a sliding scale of emotional wellbeing and is something we all have.
Overall, it was a great day and the YoungMinds team, though small in numbers, worked hard and grouped together to get our tree of happiness filled out with leaves. Luckily the weather held out for us on Saturday- although, unfortunately the group on Sunday didn’t have the same luck. Yet despite changeable weather, the tree was a hit! And it was great to see people taking pictures with their leaves! The tree has now begun its tour around England and we’ll be following and documenting its progress over the coming months. The key question is…..What Makes You Happy?