Talking about mental health

19 07 2012

Everybody’s talking about mental health at the moment. One in four people will experience mental health problems at some point in their life, yet there is still a strong stigma attached to admitting to having mental health issues. 

Last month, in a bid to break the cycle of silence surrounding mental health, four MPs stood up in the House of Commons to discuss their own experiences to further the debate on tackling prejudices against those with mental health problems. And next week sees the start of a Channel 4 season of programmes called 4 Goes Mad, which aims to challenge discrimination and the mental health stigma.

The campaign Time To Change – which collaborated with Channel 4 on 4 Goes Mad – is led by leading mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and aims to raise awareness by getting as many people talking about their  mental health experiences as possible. (You can sign up to the Time to Change pledge to talk campaign here.)

On horsesmouth our environment is anonymous, supportive and safe, which allows people to open up and disclose honestly. Depression and mental illness are therefore huge topics: just searching under ‘depression’ brings up 2,000 relevant mentor profiles.

We see people flourish after finding the support they need, often then feeling encouraged to go on and help others. In March this year, one mentee came to horsesmouth in search of support, writing, ‘I’ve been struggling with mental illness pretty much my whole life. I’ve been misdiagnosed for years. I’m looking for a mentor that I can talk to and can understand where I am coming from.

She formed several close mentoring relationships and last month signed up to be a mentor herself, sending supportive messages to other users and saying, ‘Horsesmouth has helped me tremendously. It’s nice to know you have people that you can talk to.’

Every week we have new mentors who are dealing with mental illness sign up, knowing how vital it is to offer others the opportunity to talk. For instance, h0th3ad, who signed up last month and wants to mentor on depression:

I have been through it and I know how important it is to have someone listen to you and support you. It was the worst years of my life but it’s at the back of my mind if not away from it. I believe everyone suffers from it some time in life but some suffer more than others. I am proof you can change things around with the right support, I want to be that support and the reason to change a person’s life positively.’

Other long-established mentors who have been through the mill of mental illness know how the stigma attached to mental illness can increase the sense of isolation. Mentor jennzenith, 32, says:

Although the stigma of poor mental health is supposedly decreasing, I am aware that those who find themselves living with depression, or caring for someone with depression, can often feel alone. I have experienced both sides of this illness and would love the opportunity to use my experiences to help others.’

Through the simple act of conversation and sharing, the weight of mental health and depression is partly lifted. Follow the conversations on Twitter under #4goesmad #mentalhealthdebate #timetochange. If you need advice and support on dealing with mental health issues, search for a mentor here.

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Meet the mentor.

23 05 2012

As part of Dementia Awareness Week, we would like you to meet kennc: a mentor with our partner Living Well With Dementia. He is 62 and has early onset Lewy body dementia. A Dignity Champion, he mentors on horsesmouth to help others and give as much support as possible to everyone on the dementia journey. He agreed to share with us his experiences of mentoring on horsesmouth.

‘When I was told about horsesmouth I really did not know what it was nor did I understand what it was trying to achieve. However it soon became part of my life and I found that as someone with the illness, I could help others, whether they were people with dementia, carers, loved ones, or family friends.’

‘I have helped quite a few people and feel as if I have gained many new friends in return.’

‘This is an independent website where people can go for impartial support and advice about any illness, and no matter what illness you have there is always someone there to help and support you, day and night.’

‘Most of those on this website have experience in one form or another and although dementia is a big topic we always try to help, but do not give medical advice.’

‘The main problem is that although there are around 12 different types of dementia, there are well over 120 variations of the illness and each person goes down a different route and has different symptoms, so no two people with the illness are the same and this causes many problems with people who think that their symptoms don’t match the norm.’

‘I feel that it is sometimes a very good thing to have something like horsesmouth, as we get diagnosed with illness such as dementia and we feel totally numb, and after the diagnosis has sunk in the questions start to come. But there is not always someone around to give you the answers and this is where horsesmouth can come into its own, as there are people there most of the time and quite a few have the illness.’

‘I also feel that many people could enjoy the experience of mentoring and supporting others in their time of need, and when it works well you really get a buzz and a sense of achievement, ‘a job well done’, so I would recommend it to anyone who wants to become a mentor and help others through a difficult time, and usually help yourself in the process.’

‘So if you are willing to help and have the free time why don’t you come and join us?’

Why not take kennc up on on his invitation? You could start a mentoring relationship today that could change your life. Our Living Well With Dementia mentors have a wide range of experience. To read more, and maybe meet your future mentor, click here.





Mentor Mondays.

16 04 2012

As we regularly do on Mentor Mondays, we’d like to share some of our newest mentors who have signed up. These are just a few of the people who have signed up to volunteer their time to mentor with us in the last couple of weeks; great new mentors that we’d like to get out there so the good work can begin! Why not get in there today and drop them a line?

First up, StartUpBuddy – a web entrepreneur with a successful online business, he is experienced in e-commerce, SEO and pay per click. He describes himself as, ‘a little obsessed with entrepreneurship and can’t wait to start a new business’. Maybe he could advise you on how to turn your business idea into reality, or help push your existing business to the next  level?

Seagull54 has 35 years or varied business experience, from senior menagement in multinationals through to directorships of medium sized companies. (£50-100m turnover.) Not only that, but he is a qualified practitioner coach and a Master Practitioner of NLP, Hypnotherapy and timeline therapy. His reason for mentoring? ‘At the age of 57 it is important for me to help people and to make a positive contribution to society.’

mentorBrove is someone we could all use from time to time – the IT guy! With 22 years of experience working in IT with public sector clients, he could be a great mentor to advise on your charity or social enterprise IT requirements. He says, ‘I have enjoyed helping many different clients get the best out of their IT services by ensuring that they understand and meet their business needs.’
And finally, DanniLou95 – a new young mentor, she describes herself as, ‘just your normal 16 year old girl who has been through the typical problems you face through your teenage years!’ She’s offering to share her experience and advise on essential teenaged issues such as friends, school life, exams and young love. Who didn’t need someone to talk to when they were a teenager?
Sign up to become a horsesmouth mentor today! It’s free, anonymous, easy and safe. Let someone else benefit from the lessons you’ve learned and share your wisdom.




Mentoring, the horsesmouth way.

13 04 2012

horsesmouth is where social networking meets social enterprise; where personal contributions create public value; where human capital is unlocked to create social capital. It’s social networking with a purpose. We call it the wisdomocracy. Because it’s free, it’s accessible to all (as long as you’re over 16!) and because it’s anonymous, you can share from the heart. 

What can mentoring do?
Adam attends Alcoholics Anonymous, Bilal runs a business, Chris studies chemistry at college and Diane lives with diabetes. What do they all have in common? They could all share the lessons they’ve learned from experience with fellow horsesmouth members facing the same situation.  If you have successfully faced an important choice, challenge or change in your life – and who hasn’t – you could help people by signing up to be a mentor. And if you’re going through something, getting over something or simply want to get on with something – there’s probably someone out there who’s been in your shoes. Everyone has something to give and gain. That’s why we like to call it the wisdomocracy.

What’s in it for you?
Drawing on your life experiences to help others is rewarding and allows you to breathe the heady air of the moral high ground. But think about it – it’s just like eBay – all that stuff you’ve got locked up in your head that you rarely think about and that no-one really benefits from can now be unlocked and shared with people who will really value it. In short – this is an easy and fun way to give something back. Or if you’re a younger mentor it can be very helpful in building the kind of skills that employers love – listening, problem-solving and learning from experience.  And if you’re competitive – or think you have an aptitude for it – our MFactor rating system allows you to build your reputation as a mentor – which in some way, some day you may well be able to take to the bank.

What’s in it for our community?
Communicating with someone who has been in your shoes can be really helpful, no matter who or where you are. While it may not substitute for professional advice, family or friends, sometimes it’s exactly what you need. But often social, geographic, physical and emotional barriers can make it hard to find that someone. horsesmouth breaks down those barriers to access and allows people all over the UK to come together anonymously and confidentially, to share their life experiences.

As one of our mentors Tom38 says, ‘I remember coming home from work late one night a couple of years ago. I bumped into my neighbour who was also late home. I’d not really spoken to him before, but at 10pm in the dark we stood and talked for half an hour about how things were going, and about life. It turned out we’d both recently lost a parent. He said to me, ‘Everyone has their crosses to bear, it’s how you carry them that counts’. That phrase really stuck with me and it came from someone I didn’t really know.’

‘Life can be tough and it’s not always easy to get advice from someone you know already. I’d like to help in any way I can. I’m 38, old enough to have some good experience of life, but also young enough to feel connected to younger people looking for some advice. I’m a good listener and want to help anyone I can move in the right direction. Mentoring is a great thing and this site is a great idea.’

So what are you waiting for? Sign up to start mentoring today! Or, to benefit from the wisdom of someone who’s going through the same thing as you, why not search for a mentor, or post a request for a mentor? It could be the first step towards changing your life.





Mentor Mondays.

2 04 2012

For today’s Mentor Monday, we want to share three exceptional new mentor profiles, all of whom have all signed up within the last week. Their common message is that they want to use the experience they’ve gained to help someone else: basically the central mission of horsesmouth!

First up: Edge is a successful entrepreneur in the financial sector, with top level experience at The Ford Motor Company, as well as being a published author of both business guides and novels. Impressive, I’m sure you’ll agree!

Of mentoring he says, ‘If I had known the things I know now when I was starting out my life would have been a lot easier and more profitable. We all learn by experience and in truth there is no shortcut. However, I believe that having an experienced person who can advise you and guide you as you go along is invaluable. In my career I have had many triumphs and I have also made my fair share of mistakes, some of which have been costly. As an experienced entrepreneur I should like to try and help others who are starting out avoid some of the business pitfalls that await them. ‘

Fiend85 is 26, and has an abundance of experience, both professional and personal. An engineer, she wants to mentor more women and young people to enter the field, saying, ‘I feel like because I had to work so hard to enter a career in engineering after almost failing my A-levels I could offer a lot of advice and support.’

Bereaved of her mother at a young age, she also wants to mentor others going through the same. ‘Grief and bereavement don’t have rules, they’re frightening and confusing for young people. They don’t know that as well as being sad or angry, they can experience panic attacks, paranoia, nightmares. They could be plunged into serious depressions and feel like self harming or ending their own lives. I want to be there to help them find their way through. Remind them that if they keep going they’ll be ok.’

She also dealt with realising she was gay in her teens, and says, ‘I’d like to help people understand that they were born the way they are, that it’s not their fault, and they don’t need curing.’ A wealth of useful experience just waiting to be tapped into.

Finally, Passioncoach is 53, a mother, accomplished in business strategy and development across global markets, including emerging markets. Of her achievements she says, ‘Early on I discovered that the only limit we have is the one we fix for ourself. I decided that my playing field will have no boundaries.’

So what are you waiting for, get them while they’re hot! These mentors have all signed up within the last week; why not make contact today? You could start the ball rolling on a great mentoring relationship…





Volunteering, made easy.

23 02 2012

Would you like to volunteer but feel you don’t have the time? People increasingly feel they do not have enough time to do everything they want to do in their lives, or the energy to do it. Research shows that 48% of people don’t believe they have enough time to do everything they want to do, and 56% feel they don’t that have the energy to get it done.

This is reflected in the plateau in people volunteering their time, as people feel they have less time to volunteer and prioritise their time more carefully.

All of which makes online mentoring the perfect option, if you feel that you are time-poor. The clear benefits of volunteering in this way are that it is flexible (you can choose when and how long you spend doing it), and you can you can do it from your laptop, cutting down on precious travelling time.

HopeItHelps, a 26 year old graduate explains, ‘This kind of mentoring is excellent as it is accessible. I think the best mentors are probably busy people who may not have time to actively go into their community but do have a few hours/minutes available to spend online.’

And there’s no need to train. Whatever your life experience is, from being a successful entrepreneur to a mother of twins (or maybe both!)… your advice, or even just a listening ear, is guaranteed to be of use to someone somewhere.

As one of our mentors ohsoserene says, ‘I joined horsesmouth as it seemed a very easy way to help people and it can fit around my own life. It’s too easy for people to become isolated these days and just having someone to talk to can be a life saver. Horsesmouth seems a perfect way to let people know they’re not alone in his fast moving, digital age.’

We even have a time tracker function on the site, which allows you to keep a track of how much time you’re spending on mentoring. Mentor theplayethic is a busy, successful father of two, and says, ‘I like the idea of being available for a few hours a week to share my practical knowledge and wisdom with others who might benefit from it.’

Another mentor, cosmicjulie, CEO of a social enterprise and an MA student sums it up perfectly, ‘I’m always keen to help others develop and looking for ways to use technology to make the most of the time I have available – horsesmouth provides an ideal solution for me to ‘volunteer’ in the way which suits me best.’

So, maybe volunteering is more accessible than you thought. Even just a few hours a week could make a real difference to someone’s life: a few hours here and there, multiplied by many, equals real change.

Even if you just want to find out more about what other volunteering options are out there and what might suit you best, horsesmouth can help. Ask one of our many mentors who volunteer and offer advice on volunteering

To register to mentor on horsesmouth today, click here.





‘I’d like to find my passion.’

17 02 2012

As the community manager here at horsesmouth, part of my job is to check that the mentor requests on our homepage get matched up with relevant mentors. This morning, I found this new call for help and couldn’t wait to pass some possible mentors along.

Hi! I happened across this site looking for a mentor or ‘life coach’. Usually those are also called parents. I never had any and while I have made it successfully enough through life, feel as though I am missing some important aspects. I’d like to find my ‘passion’ and live a happier life.

Please let me know if you might be able to help at all.

Thank you so very much, I sincerely appreciate it.

It’s a really touching call for help but to me the line, ‘I’d like to find my passion,’ really rang out. One of the great things about horsesmouth is that every mentor has a story, but some really stick out as particularly inspirational and visionary. I couldn’t wait to pop some along to our caller for help and, hopefully, have him find a mentor to encourage him to find his passion. I wanted to share a few of their stories with you. (And these are just a few among many!)

Chameleon, the forest dweller. Chameleon moved to Norway where she lives in a hut in the forest.  She has lived there for 2 years, thinking and cutting herself off from distractions of TV, newspapers, radio. She’s opening a retreat this year.

Wings – the flying housewife. Wings is the mother of two children, has been married for 21 years, started her own business and learned how to fly at 40.

Marbles, the superstar DJ. Marbles went from being a bedroom DJ to playing Glastonbury, having a top 30 record and now has a BBC Radio slot and a internet and publishing companies.

Joyuriel, the painter, poet and writer. Joyuriel is ’58 winters of age’, student in life, painter, poet, writer and also academic. Professionally qualified as a Parenting Consultant and in Youth Work. Carer for an autistic son. Breast cancer survivor.

Aglobal, the fun-loving global entrepreneur. Aglobal is a serial global entrepreneur whose motto is, ‘It’s all a game, lets play it.’ He says, ‘My vision is of a world of friends with one hand extended up to be lifted to higher achievements, and one hand extended down to lift a friend.’

When you read these mentors’ stories, all of whom have such active and busy lives but still find time to volunteer to mentor anonymously, I am sure you will agree they are incredibly inspiring. I hope our caller for help will find inspiration and hopefully, even his passion, with the advice and support of one or another of these mentors.

If you feel you can help our caller for help find his passion, go here if you’re a horsesmouth mentor, or register here to become a mentor.