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Some thoughts on Mental Health

February 20, 2024

Sometimes profound moments that impact us all occur when least expected. This is one such case – an important one regarding mental health and I’d urge you to take 3 minutes to read it. If it strikes a note with you, you might, literally, save someone’s life.

I was fortunate enough to attend the Langcat Live Regenerate event a couple of weeks ago. It’s a fairly standard financial services event with an interesting mix of technical, regulatory, and thought-provoking presentations.

But one of the latter really caught me unawares, and I developed a strong urge to write about it.

‘The Langcat’ is a research consultancy business based in Edinburgh, that has a slightly off the wall presentational style. If I said they’re very Scottish, that might give you a bit of an idea, in a good way. Their weekly newsletter usually contains a musical recommendation (as a YouTube link), and it’s usually heavy metallish.

The two front men most commonly seen on stage are Mark Polson and Steve Nelson, a pair of very personable, highly irreverent, and I think pretty clever middle-aged chaps, and between them and the rest of the team they’ve built a business over the last decade or so into what I regard as probably my go-to research website for my industry.

So, when Steve took quarter of an hour to present the Samaritans as their charity of the day then basically bribed (with a woolly hat) and cajoled us all into giving £20 to the Samaritans, I was unsurprised, and duly did my duty (and have a very nice winter running hat to prove it).

What did surprise me was Steve’s painfully open and honest description of his own mental health journey, and that it’s only five years ago that he himself got somewhat on top of his own mental landscape.

It was uplifting to hear that someone who at least somewhat makes their living from being a happy chatty Scottish chap, has admitted that his public persona is a bit of an act, and that really, he’s no more together than the rest of us. It resonated.

A few months ago, a young man my very late teenage daughter at university was very close friends with, ‘unalived’ himself. A couple days before the conference one of their mutual friends tried the same (thankfully, unsuccessfully). I won’t invade their privacy any more by saying more about that, other than to say that we seem to have an epidemic of young people struggling with their mental health, because most times I tell that story, the person I’m talking to has a version of their own, with a young person somewhere struggling to find their place in the world.

Depending on your viewpoint this may be the result of unbridled social media, the conflicting demands of avoiding offence in modern life, or the consequence of key developmental years being spent in isolation due to the pandemic, diet, mass media, or any number of other possible causes.

I would personally side with the pandemic, but the rest is probably a contributor.

So, to have my ‘safe place’ of a financial services conference invaded with the intrusive thoughts that ‘something must be done’ which I’ve been thinking off and on for a while anyway was both disturbing, and honestly, inspiring. Thank you, Steve, for being so open, and yes, brave.

So, what is this article about?

Well, I’m not going to change government policy, nor influence the much needed but absent roll out of widely and quickly available mental health support services, that’s a challenge for the grownups, that quite frankly, the grownups appear to have abrogated completely.

Instead, I’m going to ask a favour.

If you need help, seek it out. I’m not an expert on this, but I’ve googled a couple that make sense to me – if these don’t suit there are more…

The Samaritans w: tel: 116123 e: [email protected] available 24/7

Mind w: t: 0300 123 3393 (mon-fri 9am-6pm)

PAPYRUS (young suicide prevention society) w: t: 0800 068 4141 (9am – midnight)

…and whether you need help personally or not, please repost this, or your version of this, add any other resources you know about, and get the message as far out there as you can; that not having your ‘stuff’ sorted is the normal way of existence, it’s OK not to be OK, and if you’re struggling, seek help before those dark thoughts make you do something that everyone you’ve ever known or cared about will regret for the rest of their lives.

Normal financial services insight will resume shortly.

Mental Health

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