My Talk on Mental Wellness at WordCamp Cape Town 2016

At WordCamp Cape Town this year, I gave talk on Mental Wellness, the WordPress Community, and You. An unusual talk for a tech conference, but one which needed to be spoken about – and I had no idea how it would go down.



Watch on WordPress.tv

Summary:

The main point of this talk was to raise awareness at the intensity, the struggle, and the seriousness of various Mental Wellness issues within our current space.

To raise the awareness of Employers who have Employees with issues, for Employees to understand their colleagues and employers better, for people to change the way they think about mental health in general.

To remove the stigma that mental wellness issues have, especially in the working environment, and even more so in our daily lives for those who live with it.

During my talk, I told my story. Maybe one day I will talk about it more here, but here are the main points I touched on:

  • We have too many people living in our midst who need help, but do not get it, and who are too afraid by the stigma to seek it and talk out.
  • I was one of them, I said the three hardest words during my talk: I have depression.
  • As a society, when someone breaks their arm, we run to sign their casts, but when someone has a mental issue we run the other way. We are okay with any body part breaking down, except our brains, our minds. This needs to change.
  • When you have a broken leg, you cannot leave it outside the office doors when you walk in in the morning – why do we expect this too of people who have mental health issues?
  • People should be as okay with speaking to someone on a regular basis, like a therapist, life coach, psychologist or psychiatrist. We should have subscriptions to these just as we have gyms subscriptions for our physical wellness.
  • Employers need to be more open and understanding, currently we are very far away from this.
  • Employees need to be more open with helping themselves, and seeking the help they need, or being supportive of their peers who need it.
  • We all need to be more open and understanding of the current state of Mental Wellness in the world.
  • When we ask people “How are you?” we need to starting caring about their truthful reply. When we are asked “How are you?” we need to start being more open and brave to give an honest reply. On the day of WordCamp, before my talk, I was asked sixteen times how I was, I lied sixteen times.
  • Started the WordPress Hashtag called #WPHugs, a way of sharing, appreciating and caring within the community.
  • I need you, you need us, we need each other. People need people.
  • When someone has an issue, in my case depression, people believe that its simply because of the things going on in their lives that are not going well. This is often furthest from the truth. In my case, life was at its best and I was depressed, absent, and in that time I started losing hold of life: Been through break-ups, losing friends, losing a home, feeling more hopeless, work performance dropped, and not being able to have any say or control of any of it. Those around me thought I was depressed, because these things happened. No, because I was depressed these things happened.
  • Depression is something that we know to be so common, yet know and speak the least about, as with all mental wellness issues. Its time this ended, I began the end of silence by telling the world my story, maybe you would be brave enough to tell yours? Or open enough to listen to anothers?
  • As an open source community that relies on the work of the people behind the scenes that make this possible, we need to also spread the idea of 5 for the future for ourselves, you cannot pour from an empty cup so before giving back, start giving within.
  • Stop the Silence, Remove the Stigma, Care.

After my talk, so many people opened their hearts out to me and for that I am extremely grateful. I was more than surprised at how well this was received and about how many people had been suffering in silence and are now brave enough to speak out.

Cory Miller, a very brave man told his story which inspired me to tell mine, will you tell yours? You can leave a comment or send me a link (Totally open to coffee too.)

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