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The Knowledge Guild - Your Twitter Questions Answered

Monday 26th June saw The Knowledge Guild host their second showcase of 2017. For those who attended, you’ll know that audience had many, many questions for the speakers. Joanna Gosling hosted a superb Q&A, but unfortunately, we didn’t get time to answer all the questions on the night. So, Speakers Corner and The Brewery asked our clients to continue submitting their questions on Twitter, and here are the answers from our speakers. Covering media perceptions of mental illness, vivid dreams and identifying the difference between depression and sadness, Joanna Gosling, Clarke Carlisle, Bryony Gordon and Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan once again inspire us to continue the conversation around mental health.

Joanna Gosling

1. How do you deal with speaking to guests on TV or speakers at events on difficult topics, whilst also getting to the bottom of a tough issue?

I am always aware that having the opportunity to interview people about anything is a very privileged position to be in. You are there on behalf of people at home or in an audience, and therefore want to ask the questions that they would ask if they had the chance. You want to get the best out of the person who's put themselves out there. Generally, my interview style is to be relaxed and conversational. I am not a conflict-style interviewer. That said, different interviews require different approaches, as people will choose to be interviewed for different reasons. Some have no choice - it's part of the job. Politicians have to be accountable, and in that context, asking difficult questions - as long as you ask the right ones - is not an emotional issue, it's about trying to be impartial, to get the facts.

At the other end of the spectrum are interviews with people who are there because of something personal or emotional. They don't have to be interviewed, but are generally there because they want to be heard, or they want to make a difference for others who may have a similar experience. For me, the tone of those conversations is driven by the interviewee. Sometimes someone can be more matter of fact than you were expecting on a sensitive subject, which can make probing questions easier. If someone is emotional, then I will try to metaphorically hold their hand, so they feel as relaxed as they can be. In the end, most interviews - whether it's political, business, celebrity or emotional - boil down to the fact that the person is there to be interviewed because they care passionately about something, or know a huge amount about it, so my job is to try to get the most out of someone, to get them to tell their story as clearly as possible. I will always plan an interview and the questions I want to ask, and I will write them down to make sure I don't forget something that I might be annoyed about afterwards, but actually, when I'm in the conversation, I think the most important part is listening.

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"Generally, my interview style is to be relaxed and conversational."

2. Can TV/media do more to change the perceptions around mental illness?

I think that TV and the media are reflecting a far greater awareness around mental illness, which is a good thing. Mental health is a subject that comes up all the time in the programmes that I present - whether it's talking about resources in terms of treating it, or people talking about how they have been affected. This year, Princes William and Harry talking about their mental health after the death of their mother, Princess Diana, has taken openness around these issues further forward. Their privileged background is academic in the context of mental health - we are all shaped by our experience. Talking about it is the way to end stigma.

Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan

1. I have really vivid dreams. Does that mean I’m not sleeping properly? 

Not as such, but it might mean your sleep isn't as deep and restorative so you might wake feeling more tired. Try to minimise technology before bedtime as this will make your dreams more vivid. Also, are you creative or going through a lot of stress? If so, journaling will help to take some of this stuff out of your sleep so that it's 'cleaner'.

2. Does sleep talking interrupt your sleep?

It can do. It can make you feel more tired as your sleep might be shallower. It's often about needing to express things that need to be said in your waking hours - so my advice would be to learn how to express your truth!

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"Try to minimise technology before bedtime."

3. Do you have any tips for a good night's sleep when you have regular nightmares from PTSD?

The key here is to seek help and support for your PTSD. If you are doing this already then you can also help yourself by following my 5 non-negotiables as this will clean up your sleep quality and help you to go deeper.

4. What can I do to get better sleep when I have a young baby?

Apply the 5 non-negotiables wherever possible, take the pressure of 'sleeping' and put the focus on 'resting'. Delegate responsibilities to others when possible so that you can take naps whenever you can. Try not to stress about it - parenthood is hard work but this tough phase will pass.

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"I find, verbalising my feelings diminishes the impact of them."

Clarke Carlisle

1. Anxiety/depression is a common workplace problem. What are your tips to stop it snowballing when experienced?

I always find that my anxiety is due to a current or pending situation. When it starts to take hold, I stop, then do something completely different or unrelated. If I'm at work, that might mean a 2-minute walk and (forgive me) a smoke of my pipe. If I'm in social situation, I'll excuse myself and go to the bathroom for 2 minutes, anything to shift my mind from the situation.

Another useful tool I've used is to tell someone about my potential anxiety BEFORE I enter the situation. I find, verbalising my feelings diminishes the impact of them.

2. What do you think about suppressed talent, creativity and instinct leading to mental health issues in the workplace?

That's an interesting question, and a line of thought that I believe has some merit. Many mental health issues can stem from a feeling of being trapped, a feeling of being unappreciated and a feeling of low worth. If your creativity is stifled in the workplace, then all three of these could manifest themselves, initially as frustration at not being acknowledged or that your full value is not appreciated. I would suggest that you find a second avenue to let your creativity flow, in the form of a hobby or extracurricular activity. You will be amazed at how this frees your capabilities even within a restricted arena, and how this second interest develops momentum itself due to your love and enjoyment of it.

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"Many mental health issues can stem from a feeling of being trapped, a feeling of being unappreciated and a feeling of low worth."

3. How do you recognise when you’re depressed and not just sad? What are the first signs?

Identifying the difference between sadness and depression is very difficult in the moment. What is crucial to be aware of, however, is the length of time that the feeling persists, and the thought processes that go with it. Just like a bad cough, if you've had this overwhelming feeling of sadness for 2 weeks or more, then talk to your GP about it. Remember, emotions are transient, they should come and go, but when feelings of sadness, worthlessness, listlessness, apathy towards life, persist for a couple of weeks or more, then it is time to talk to someone. 

In addition, being sad because you've lost something/someone is totally understandable and needs to be experienced. Feeling as though you can't/shouldn't go on due to your loss is NOT something that goes with it. Verbalise these thoughts to a trusted loved one.

Bryony Gordon

1. How can we support friends and family with OCD, eating disorders and anxiety when they can’t or won’t get professional help?

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make a horse drink. Be non-judgemental, open and loving. Try and remember that they’re ill and they’re not being selfish.

2. Is anxiety a common workplace problem, and what are your tips to stop it snowballing when experienced?

Yes, it’s one of the most common workplace problems. Talk to someone, talk to a colleague. Don’t be quiet, it will only make it worse.

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"Don’t be quiet, it will only make it worse."

3. What do you think about suppressed talent, creativity and instinct leading to mental health issues in the workplace?

Everyone can have a mental illness, whether creative or not. We shouldn’t just think mental issues affect creative types, Bob in accounts might be suffering too, it can be anyone.

4. What more can we do personally to break down the taboo around mental health?

Talk about it- no one’s got better by not talking. Be honest and talk as normally about mental health as you would a physical illness. Talk about mental health issues as if you’re talking about having a broken arm. 

To book, or for more info. on any of our speakers, call us on +44 (0) 20 7607 7070 or email us at info@speakerscorner.co.uk

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