Going in I didn’t expect to leave with a new business partner and friend, in fact I don’t think I even realised as I left quite what I had signed up to, but that meeting saw Freedom of Mind take its first steps.
She wanted to move away from the scary, stigmatised and dark conversations around mental health. To make it something accessible to everyone, better understood and something to be proud of and celebrated. Through my own struggles with mental illness I had first hand experience of the problems caused by stigma and discrimination, the lack of education in our society and the damage that was causing individuals.
If you had told me that day that just over three years later we would be a fully incorporated company, have successfully run two week long festivals attending by hundreds of people, and have almost 30 existing dedicated and hardworking volunteers I wouldn’t have believed you.
We have grown more than I could have ever imagined and achieved huge amounts in a short space of time.
Although already we have a pretty good idea of what events we will be running this year (though sorry, you’ll have to wait a little longer to find out exactly what!!) we’re really excited to be expanding on our collaborative efforts, supporting other small groups and organisations to run their own events, and further developing our workshop package. We want to continue growing so that mental health is not just celebrated and talked about for one week of the year, but it is a regular topic in all of our lives and that no one has to feel embarrassed, worried or scared of having those conversations.
Freedom of Mind Festival co-founder, Katie Finch, gives a personal account of what Freedom of Mind means to her and why it’s so important to talk about mental health and emotional wellbeing.
TW: self harm and suicide.
Anyone who knows me is aware that I am very open when it comes to discussing my mental health and emotional wellbeing. For the most part everyone has been accepting and supportive of whatever I had to say and that itself has been a crucial part of my recovery.