Worthing Mental Health Awareness Week | WMHAW © 2016 Allie Beddard | Cre8tive Solutions
I’m going to talk to you about the fantastic logo, designed for us by Allie Beddard. As I tell you about the logo, I’ll be telling you about mental health, from my perspective, at the same time. There are so many concepts about mental health hidden in our logo.
So how did is come about. Well, time and again, as I’ve spoken with the various charities and organisations here today, I’ve heard about the amazing work they do with insufficient funding. We all work with nothing more than shoestrings and goodwill. Always aiming to achieve much with little.
I took a shoestring as my starting point for a logo. I thought it might build on the ribbon idea, but be quirky enough to catch the imagination. So from now on, every time you tie your shoelaces, I’d like you to think of mental health. When you put on your shoes, think of the steps you can take to reduce the stigma and discrimination.
For the logo, I wanted a rainbow coloured string for hope, tied (for security) in a heart shaped bow to represent caring. I reasoned that if we tie our strings together we can achieve more, encompass more. And I also believe that if we plait our strings, work together, if we are flexible and creative, we do not lose our own individuality, but strengthen each other.
I invite you to look at the logo with my eyes. Allow me talk you through it. Lets find the hidden concepts.
The logo comprises three elements – the words – the heart and the strings.
First of all there are the words. I see blue lettering which represents the sea, and the green lettering of the Downs. Is this not Worthing? The shapes of the green letters are hilly.
Look, please, closely at the letter A. It’s almost a triangle. There’s a way in. There’s somewhere to hide… somewhere safe…a safe-person to trust. If you’ve ever been frightened, truly frightened, you will understand what I mean. You will know the value of a safe place.
Now look at the heart. Yes, the heart represents caring, compassion, loving our neighbours, respecting others.
This heart has rainbow colours to show that everyone is included. Mental health issues can affect everyone - men and women, old and young. It affects people from every background. One in four of us will come forward for help at some point in our lives. There is still discrimination and stigma in our workplaces, in family units and communities* and we know this is a factor in preventing others from seeking help. About a quarter of our heart is rainbow – coloured.
The rainbow incorporates the colours of our Mayor’s charities, and every organisation here today. And in every culture, rainbows are accepted as a sign of hope and new beginnings.
Do you see the little circle? This is the eyelet. This is me. But it could be you, or someone close to you.
Here the eyelet is held fast. It is safe and it is secure. Recently I heard a professional talk of “compassion in our hearts” and of course I agree.
But it is vital to translate that compassion into action…. keeping people safe, giving them hope and a purpose, along with a sense of belonging. Compassionate hearts must beat in tune with broken ones. But that is not enough … the pulse must generate action. Listening, really listening, is action. Learning about others is action. And talking about the issues is action. If we do this – if we listen and learn - with and for and from those who suffer from mental distress, we are already raising awareness and challenging stigma. Its starts with looking at ourselves.
Here the eyelet is grey, not black. The black hole is in the middle. When your world collapses, when the basic beliefs you always relied on* just do not make any sense any more, when the core of your very being disintegrates, when dreams are destroyed, you have to be held fast.
When you struggle to present a shiny all-is-well exterior to the world, yet are empty inside, you must seek, or be offered hope. If you ever feel so small, so insignificant, so valueless - then it is my prayer, my hope, that you will be lifted up, and threaded, with utmost tenderness, onto a compassionate heart.
Now that heart might belong to a friend or family, a support or social network. It might belong to a GP or a specialist team in the NHS. But to be compassionate it must beat out a constant rhythm of truth, honesty and integrity.
Lets look at the third element of this design ---the multi - coloured strings.
These represent the chaotic thoughts of mental distress and also the utter mess our lives sometimes get into. Here everything seems to be unravelling, falling apart. It’s a jumble, a real muddle and its hard to know where to begin. How can we make sense or create a future out of such confusion or misery? Here are the many strands, the many issues we may have to face.
So how are the problems tackled? Sometimes, yes, partly on our own. But if you look closely, the strings are in pairs. There’s a problem and usually a solution. Or at least something can be salvaged and something rebuilt. In mental health, as with life generally, there’s not necessarily a straight answer, a one size fits all. But a good care-provider will journey alongside you. They will accompany you on the twists and turns of your illness or distress and stay with you. They will enable you to progress towards your own goals.
This is my favourite bit. Look again at those strings. To me, those rainbow shoelaces, are reminiscent of party poppers. There’s a real joy, a celebration when we make steps towards, or achieve our recovery. Isn’t there massive cause for celebration when we return from our various difficulties and look forward to a future with greater confidence?
So, there are three elements in the logo. There’s Worthing. There’s the heart with the eyelet. And the strings themselves tell the story of mental illness – the chaos and distress, the winding journey to recovery, and the joy when good days finally come.
It truly doesn’t matter if you wear your shoelaces in your shoes, or if you are quirky enough to wear them on your wrist, or in your hair. What does matter is the steps you take. This week we have opportunities to learn from each other. Lets take the time to listen. Its time to talk. Time to change.