5 Things We Loved about Southbank's Changing Minds Festival
Last weekend's Changing Minds Festival was the first-ever mental health and arts festival held at the Southbank Centre in London. While it was based on the premise that talking about mental health problems were still taboo, we were hugely heartened to see that the all-day tickets for performances were sold out, and the ballroom area where many free events were offered were often packed. In other words, there were lots of people who were very interested in exploring the issue of mental health and where the arts could help with expression and healing.
Welldoing's Louise Chunn and Alice McGurran had a stall for the two days of the event. Here's our top 5 takeaways from an event that looks likely to become a regular in the Southbank Centre's calendar.
1. Meeting so many other people involved in helping others get the support they needed. Representatives from social enterprises and charities such as Mind, Children's Society, B-eat, CALM, Mind Apples, Rethink Mental Illness, Samaritans and Time to Change visited our stall and we learned a lot exchanging information.
2. Taking part in a mindful movement class, a great way to relax and wonderful to do in a large group. Being surrounded by people of all kinds, moving as one felt really special. Also a good way to practice mindfulness if you find sitting still a bit tricky!
3. Witnessing Mountain High Valley Low, a 15-minute performance that shone a light on the bipolar experience. Karen Glossop of Wishbone Theatre pedaled on a stationary bike as her mind raced through relationships, work, ambition, extreme concentration and taking "more drugs than Lance Armstrong". Extremely sad, and laugh-out-loud funny, it was developed in conjunction with people affected by bipolar and medical staff and carers at the South London and Maudsley Trust.
4. From a middle-aged man excitedly telling us about how EMDR is benefitting him, to young women looking for therapists for anxiety. We spoke to so many open and interested people about their experiences of mental health and therapy, their successes and difficulties finding the right therapist for them. Countless times we were asked for advice about how to find the right therapist, and we were thrilled that we can confidently offer a service so clearly needed.
5. Leaving the festival feeling that we had been involved in an event that might have really made a difference in people's understanding of mental health. On the Sunday afternoon, we were amazed to see an enormous group attend the Big Sing and were treated to a wonderful (surprisingly harmonious!) rendition of Blackbird. There was an undeniable sense of community and common purpose at the Changing Minds festival - we can't wait to see more events like this happening around the country.