2017’s blog series begins with Founder, Ella Marshall, as she explains her feelings coming back into the project for the second time…

Freedom of Mind Festival is back for it’s second year and once again, I am incredibly proud of all the great events we have in store, which have been brought together by the generosity and willpower of Freedom of Mind volunteers.

When I first envisioned Freedom of Mind Festival, it was a one-off event. I never quite imagined that people would rally behind it to put it on for a second year. I never even considered that we might become a Community Interest Company. I never really thought it would take off. And quite honestly, all of this might have been true if it weren’t for the team behind Freedom of Mind. Everyone, especially our new recruits, has demonstrated the most incredible determination and investment in our aims to initiate conversation, stimulate education and ultimately foster change around the way that people view mental health in order to make Bristol a happier, healthier city.

This year there are far more of us working behind the scenes and I am prouder than ever of not just what Freedom of Mind has achieved so far, but all the people involved.

Due to my A Levels (apparently getting into uni etc etc is important) I have had to take a significant break from Freedom of Mind work but reintegrating through summer has reminded me, after a hefty few months of exams, of the sheer power of teamwork.
Don’t underestimate it.

Being so totally indulged in the notion of my own personal academic attainment, or potential failure through the former half of 2017 was debilitating and demoralising. The education system in this country allows little room for creativity, self-expression or indeed, entrepreneurship. In March I won the Bristol Young Heroes Enterprise Award for the conception of Freedom of Mind and the ceremony reinforced for me that the idea ‘success’ follows a linear model of good grades-good uni-good job is false. Every young person in the room had ‘achieved’ outside of a curriculum in acts of altruism or overcoming personal hurdles and I was humbled to be amongst them.

This year has reinforced for me that choosing to found a mental health organisation in the midst of my A Levels – despite at points being against the advice of people close to me and despite creating extra workload – is one of the best things I could have done to maintain a sense of self during a period of intense academic focus. Thinking back to what Freedom of Mind achieved last year throughout my exams kept me motivated and ensured that I was less defeated by the difficulty of my A Levels because I was reminded – as we all should be – that there is life outside of the linear linear model of good grades-good uni-good job. In fact, often all the good stuff happens out there in the wilderness.

I am very excited to experience with you all Freedom of Mind Festival 2017, which is being brought to you largely not by me but by our amazing 15 strong volunteer team (who you will begin to find out more about in the coming weeks). This blog is largely some very personal musings about the last year and I would like to invite anyone and everyone to contribute to our blog stream!

But for now, see you all between 6th-14th October!


If you have something interesting to say about mental health send us a pitch to

Keep your pitches to less than 150 words and tell us what content you want to make and why you want to make it. It can be anything, from a poem, to an article, to a video, to a piece of artwork – we’re just after stories to tell. We can keep things anonymous if you’d like and we’ll help you to edit your piece then get it up on the blog in the lead up to the 2017 festival.

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