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Blog: There’s magic in your smile

7th November 2019

By Lydia Davies, Project Support Officer, Health Innovation Network

I’m a young person, a 22-year-old woman living and working in London. I look around City Hall and see many other young women like myself and realise that 1 in 4 of us will experience living with anxiety or depression and 70 per cent of us would not have had any appropriate interventions implemented.

It was great to see so many young Londoners and professionals come together at Thrive LDN’s World Mental Health Festival on Thursday, 10 October at City Hall. The event was hosted by the Mayor’s Peer Outreach Team, in partnership with Thrive LDN. The fun-filled festival focused on day-to-day challenges that impact young-Londoners mental health and wellbeing and explored options to help us to overcome these barriers through arts, music, peer-support groups, bespoke services, digital apps and more.

I particularly enjoyed the meditation session by Brenda Shankey, a Mindset Performance Coach from Urdang. I learnt that we have 70,000 thoughts that go through our head in a day. I was challenged to consider how many of my thoughts are negative. Do I wake up and automatically worry that I haven’t done something in work? Yes, sometimes. Do I wake up and the rain and clouds make me feel sad? Yes, sometimes. Do I wake up and the first thing I do is check my Instagram and automatically compare myself to others? Yes – more than I realise.

It was really helpful to learn two simple strategies to help minimise these negative thoughts, one of which was breathing exercise techniques; I will definitely be taking a small amount of time out of each day to breathe, relax and smile. A smile can instantly make you feel better. Its free and self-love is important. As Thich Nhat Hanh states, “your smile can be the source of your joy”. I will definitely be taking that tip! Thanks Brenda.

Following a very interactive workshop, I buzzed along to the next, ‘Suicide Prevention -Awareness’ run by PAPYRUS. Even though I have some knowledge of the impact of suicide through working in the mental health programme as a Project Support Officer at the Health Innovation Network, learning that in 2018, 1,886 people under 35 years old took their lives and that 200 of these were school children, made me feel even more passionate about making London a Zero Suicide City.

The last session I attended featured a panel discussion with a PAPYRUS ambassador who is also an Instagram influencer; a podcast creator; and Brave Scar. The discussion focused on whether social media is a blessing or curse. I use social media on a daily basis to keep up to date with top holiday destinations, latest trends and using it to connect with friends and family. However, I do sometimes catch myself comparing myself and my lifestyle to others. The strong message was “social media is what you make of it” and to use it carefully. I will definitely be more wary of how much time I spend on social media pages, who I follow, who follows me and make sure I take time away from my accounts.

Alongside these stimulating and inspiring sessions, I saw incredible performances. Infecta, Rakaya Fetuga and Sanah Ahsan were just some of the young artists, performers and content creators that I got to enjoy. I also managed to bump into Sadiq Khan.

A truly inspiring day, led by young people, for young people. Thank you, Thrive LDN.

Check out our  Mental Health programme at the Health Innovation Network and our commitment to Zero Suicide here.

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