Many of us are looking at January as a time to bring about positive changes. But positive change is much easier to make when we are feeling mentally strong. This is particularly hard this January. The coronavirus pandemic with its many lockdowns has created an epidemic of mental health issues, the effect of which will be seen for years to come. People who have never suffered before are experiencing mental health issues for the first time. And with healthcare stretched to full capacity, it’s even harder than before to seek professional advice leaving many people to cope by themselves.
We speak to Niki Clarke, founder of My Black Dog, a peer to peer online chat support for people struggling with their mental health.
What inspired you to set up My Black Dog?
My Black Dog is a product of my own experiences; I have suffered with depression for most of my life. One of the things that I struggled with the most was finding someone who could relate to what I was going through. I am fortunate enough to have some wonderful friends and a supportive family, however, mental health is something that is very hard to understand unless you have experienced it yourself. I kept thinking “I wish I could talk to someone who gets it”, which is where the whole concept came from.
With all that’s happened in the last year, what is the biggest area of concern that you have for peoples’ mental health?
Do you have any advice for people running small businesses to cope with their own anxieties as well as the mental health of those people that they employ?
Find someone that you can lean on. I am very lucky to have a Board of Trustees whose advice is invaluable, but at times, I find it hard to ask for help. I’ve been running My Black Dog on my own for a long time, and it’s slightly alien now, with the growing amount of people who now play key parts in our organisation, to think “wow, I’m not alone, there are people here to support me!” The trick is to recognise that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a road to greater strength.
Do you think we can take some positive lessons from this pandemic in terms of the way we care for one another and the way that we talk about mental health issues?
Absolutely! Already we have heard so many incredible stories of people helping one another and seen the true power that comes from kindness. I feel that there will be a greater empathy towards mental health, as each and every person has been mentally tried by this pandemic and the devastation it has created.
My Black Dog, visit website
My Black Dog is a peer to peer online chat support for people struggling with they mental health. All of our volunteers have battled with their own mental health and understand what you are going through. Real people, real problem, zero judgement. When you don’t know who to talk to, talk to someone who gets it.
Niki Clarke from My Black Dog