A conversation with Ling where we talk about her experience with Mental Health and Wellbeing and how we can create environments for people to speak out.
We are all living in an online world, connected 24x7 without much chance to switch off and recharge. When I caught up with Ling we discussed the impact of living in this connected world on our mental health. We explored the additional pressures that have been introduced by COVID-19 through travel restrictions, wearing masks and the impact on our daily lives. Ling is a former Mental Health nurse of Chinese decent and has foundered a social enterprise where she works with people to help them rediscover acceptance, love and respect to connect back with themselves and society.
Joanne sat down to talk to Ling Salter a former Mental Health nurse to discuss ‘Why Love, Respect, Connection and Acceptance Matter.’
These are big concepts that we all need, in different quantities. They are all a part of belonging. People’s mental health can really be affected when they feel they are not being listened to, or do not have anyone to speak to. Ling worked in a prison and found those incarcerated struggled with the feeling of being ‘heard’. People become disaffected if they do not feel like they are getting their needs met by a specific group and we will easily swop allegiances if they feel someone else serves them better. We have needs that we are not always able to articulate, and when you suffer a mental health issue there is often a disconnect and re-finding what your purpose and passion can take time.
There is often a negative stigma attached to mental health, the word mental has negative stereotypes. People don’t like to discuss their feelings and cannot see the impact this may have. However, they have a habit, particularly negative ones, of coming back if we supress them. It is extremely easy to disconnect when you are in a negative headspace, we think we are protecting ourselves by doing this and the longer this goes on the harder it becomes to reach out. There is still the perception that men in particular are not allowed to cry and these stereotypes perpetuate the problem because if they cannot articulate how they feel then they are not able to reach out and establish that connection.
The internet has been a double edge sword for mental health and establishing connections as it is less forgiving and does not allow you to be forgotten. It is therefore exceedingly difficult to re-invent yourself. It also makes it hard to switch off and we can feel bombarded. In order to protect yourself it can be necessary to switch off from social media, but this can be isolating as your ‘group’ may all be online. Ling thinks it is very important to find your passion and purpose and finding what works for you.
Ling felt that the beginning of lockdown put people into a state of shock, where they no longer had a plan. Everyone had to go through the stages of grief, starting with accepting the situation, which will have taken people different lengths of time to come through. However, throughout this there have been huge sections of the community that came together to create mutual aid, including the clap for the NHS. We have all been trying to negotiate this period of uncertainty and people had started to find their safe space, the new anxieties now centre around the easing of lockdown. We are relying on trust, the information we are being given will keep us safe and this goes back to connection. Lockdown has had an adverse effect on our mental wellbeing and happiness because we are being denied the things that usually keep us well.
Compassionate Cuppa, which Ling started as a social enterprise was inspired by helping people who may be going through a difficult time but helping them in a way they want. With mental health the service is set, but sometimes people have not been able to find what they need within this. Ling believes the approach needs to be adapted to each individual. Without mental health, there is no health, it all starts from within. If we are lost within ourselves how do we exert ourselves externally.
SEE Change Happen