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I sit on my favourite bench and chat

Sunday, 29 January 2023 Emily

Emily blogs about finding a safe space to talk about mental health.

I always try to schedule time in my day to talk about mental health – I call these my ‘mental health moments’. Sometimes I go to a talking café to chat, log on to an online peer support group or strike up a conversation during hobbies (like in my piano lessons, where I talk to my tutor). But I probably speak to my friends and family the most – especially my mum. We like to sit on our favourite bench on the beach with a coffee and catch up. The natural surroundings are calm, safe and quiet, which makes it much easier for me to talk about my mental health.

"I go on weekly walks with my therapy dog and his trainer. I often talk to her about my mental health."

I also sometimes write down what I want to say if I can’t share how I’m struggling – which is sometimes hard due to my autism, anorexia and traumatic memories. Being creative and adaptable with communication helps me to feel safe, heard, supported and understood.

I also go on weekly walks with my therapy dog and his trainer – who is the loveliest lady. I often talk to her about my mental health. Because when the dog is sitting on my lap with his head in my hands, it’s like a big cuddle. It really helps me to feel relaxed and open up.

There’s some talking benches in Guernsey which I often sit on too. A group of parents set them up after losing their sons to suicide. There’s a sign on the benches which says, ‘If you need someone to talk to, sit here’. It creates a safe space for conversations to happen. Sometimes people sit next to me for a chat and then we go on a walk – it’s really nice to have that space.

Using my fidget spinner to relax

When I’m unable to get out, I use Zoom to speak to friends. Often, I use my fidget spinner for those chats, as I find it helps me relax. Online video calls have been a powerful way for me to catch up with friends and for us to talk about how we’re all feeling.

"I might leave some little signs on benches encouraging people to sit and chat."

For Time to Talk Day this year, I think I’ll go to the beach and sit on my favourite bench for a chat with someone. I might even leave some little signs on benches encouraging people to sit and chat. I’ll also see Alfie the therapy dog, play the piano and share lots of self-care strategies, quotes, blogs and words of wisdom on social media.

I’m also starting art therapy again with Guernsey Mind in few weeks – which will be a great place to have a conversation. I might also take a moment to do some poetry or art about mental health, as I find that prompts people to have conversations in a variety of environments.

Communicating through art

Art helps me to express myself. It takes me into another world and gives me hope for recovery. I feel free like a butterfly and able to communicate creatively. It allows for such powerful conversations about mental health and gives mindful moments for me and many more to share our hope of recovery

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