As a male in my 20’s, mental health wasn’t something I thought I’d have to contend with, but rather than letting this ‘invisible’ illness invade mine and other people’s lives further, I decided to go pedal to the metal on making it visible in a humorous way, showing people that we need to address it, not sweep it under the carpet.
I’m a 29-year-old from Evesham in the West Midlands, and in 2016 I was in a really dark place. I did not know who to turn to or ask for help and on reflection, I felt scared and ashamed that I didn’t understand my own feelings.
I plucked up the courage to speak to my GP about how I was feeling and then got referred into professional help. It felt good talking to someone about my problems even though it was not an easy step to take considering what I was going through mentally. My eyes were opened to mental health and the more open I was, the more I saw.
The same year I saw lots of people suffering with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. After seeing the ALS ice bucket challenge and the how well it worked, I wanted to do something similar for the fantastic charity Mind to help raise awareness for mental health.
The video I wanted to do was a silent video so I decided to write down facts about how mental health affects us in the UK by using facts and figures from the charity Mind. Fast forward to July 2017 where my Messy 4 Mind challenge for mental health awareness was born.
It was a sunny day in Cheltenham when we had started to set up everything for the challenge by mixing supplies and setting up the tarpaulin ready to film with the help with my friends. I remember holding the cards and showing them to the camera and then when it came to the card saying: ‘By getting Messy 4 Mind’, I thought: ‘Oh dear, here it comes.’ And then I got slimed with two buckets of blue slime and pied in the face.
The idea is to show that mental illness exists; they call mental health the invisible illness but, by getting messy we can physically see it. This is my video that started this all off (which now has over 40,000 views and over 600 shares).
2018 comes around and what a year it was for Messy 4 Mind not only did we get over 100 people involved but we manage to raise over £4,000 for Mind. People were involved from across the UK, Ireland, US and we even got some former TV talents, independent wrestlers and mental health advocates to get messy for the cause.
It was great to see promotion of the challenge in my local newspaper and I also did a few radio interviews talking about mental health and Messy 4 Mind.
You can also view this montage video of some of the people who took part in the challenge. There has been such a positive response to the challenge, the most poignant moment, while on a night out, when someone shared with me their own experience with mental illness and said that the work I was doing to raise awareness was a real support to them, just knowing someone cared.
We have now had 128 people step up and get involved in this challenge, it’s a great reminder that it is OK not to be OK so let’s have some fun and make a difference. We also have our own Messy 4 Mind Facebook,Twitter and Instagram pages for anyone wanting to get involved in this challenge for mental health awareness.
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Tom Mills of Evesham has started Messy 4 Mind, which sees people covered in gunge, to bring in funds to help combat depression.