The Mental Health panel took place on Sunday at Summer In The City 2015. It featured creators including Tom Ridgewell, Rebecca Brown and Luke Cutforth. It was chaired by Leena Normington.
The panel, which was held in Panel Room A, was well attended and saw a discussion about many apsects of mental health, a topic a lot of YouTubers have been openly talking about, including their own past and present mental health issues.. The panel consisted of Leena Normington, Tom “Tomska” Ridgewell, Rebecca Brown, Morgan Paige, Luke Cutforth and Melanie Murphy.
Leena kicked off the discussion asking about branding, with Rebecca and Tom both talking about having a second channel which is used for talking about mental health and other issues. On the other hand, Luke said he tries to remain positive on his channel, as he doesn’t feel he is qualified to talk about mental health issues, although he does do a video on a more serious topic, like depression, every now and again.
One of the important discussions on the panel was around the fact that they aren’t the people that have fixed people, or saved their lives. They all felt it was important to reiterate the fact that their viewers have done it themselves. Luke touched on the subject saying: “When people come up to me and go you’ve helped me through this, I see it actually as they’ve helped them through it and I was just a thing that sort of helped a little bit.”
Tom added: “A massive part of mental health recovery is understanding that if you want to help support someone who has mental health issues, typically you can’t. You can’t fix them, it’s their journey but you as a friend it’s your role to be there for them. And I guess some of us can play that role to be there for you. We’re not fixing you. People come up to me and say ‘You saved my life,’ but actually I say no you’ve saved your life.”
The panel then then talked about mental health topics that they felt weren’t covered enough. Tom said he felt that there was a stereotype around self-harm and that more should be said on the topic to break that stereotype, however Luke jumped in saying he was nervous to do another video on self harm because he didn’t want to be the reason someone found out about it and started doing it. “The reason I started self-harming was because someone in my class told me about it,” admitted Luke. “I don’t want to publicise that as a thing.”
When it came to talking about responding to comments and messages, Morgan revealed that although you’re inevitably going to have a big response, sometimes the pressure to respond in the right way can get quite terrifying. “It’s this balance of realising how much you can do and how much capacity you do have to respond or to refer people to the right things and then how much of that could be affecting you in a positive or negative way,” she said.
The audience then asked the panel a number of questions. One audience member asked what is the unifying thing that they can do as YouTubers to send across positivity in videos?
“For me it’s just to be grateful for what you do have, and that’s something I never used to do,” answered Melanie. “I’d focus always on the problems – my nana died, my relationship fell apart, I gained four stone. All these things kept happening and I’d get into a cycle but then I’d try and think of well I have a roof over my head, and I have these people that love me and I have amazing friends and I tried to focus on those things and the more I did that the better my life has become.”
Another question from the audience was about dealing with friends and family invalidating and not respecting the fact that somebody has a mental illness.
“What’s fascinating about YouTube is that we are real people. We are people in our bedrooms making videos,” said Beckie . “You have found people like myself and other YouTubers, some of which are on this panel right now, and we’ve been told that our videos help you. The fact that you’re seeing somebody else out there struggling with the same things it’s almost like ‘hey, this person has this as well!’ – it’s almost like evidence so to speak.”
“I think something that’s awesome right now that you have access to is the internet, and there’s a lot of support groups and people online,” she continued. “It’s actually a huge support and help if you go to people online and go to people outside of your friends and family and I think over time if you can just genuinely open up to your family and be like look I’m not just saying I don’t want to go out because I’m depressed and lazy.”
Photos by: Michael Dean
Want More From Summer in the City 2015?
Check out our Summer in the City tag, where you’ll find all of our coverage. Also, why not take a look back at our Photo Recaps from Friday, Saturday and Sunday?
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