For the second blog of our Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 series, we spoke with Sophie Beresford, the founder of Like I Care, a blog and podcast for mental health & wellbeing:
Tell us about yourself and how you got into the mental health world:
"I started the blog back in 2019 and I decided to create the blog because when I was going through my mental health struggles, I felt really alienated and I felt like I couldn’t really talk about what I was going through because there was a lot of shame, and there still is a lot of shame about mental health and wellbeing. So I thought if I’m experiencing these things and I feel like I have to put on a mask, there must be so many more people out there who are having to go through the same thing. So I wanted to create a platform that I needed during my darkest times, in the hopes of helping other people.
And I appreciate that I’ve only experienced certain things in life, so I wanted people with different stories to share their own experiences in order to help others as well, that’s how it grew to be a blog AND a podcast in the end.
I’ve met people that I wouldn’t have met had I not done the podcast. I’ve also learned so much about different life experiences, different mental health issues. So it’s not only educational for people that tune in to the podcast and read the blogs, it’s also really educational for me. I just want people to come to Like I Care and walk away feeling that they’re not alone, feeling comforted and empowered to take on whatever it is they’re going through and take those steps if needed to get some help."
Do you have any tips/advice on how people can better take care of their mental health?
"People treat mental health differently to physical health. We’re all very good at looking at our diet or factoring in physical activity, but then mental health is seen as something separate when actually just in the same way as we all have physical health, we also have mental health. So just as we make conscious efforts to make sure that we are physically fit, we should all also be making conscious efforts to make sure that we are mentally well. That means different things for different people and I really try to promote that through the blog and podcast. We all have different ticks; we all get something different out of different activities. Some of us need more time with people, where as others may need more alone time and it’s trying to figure out what works best for you. I know that spending too much time by myself isn’t where I get a lot of my energy. So I realised shortly before the pandemic that I get a lot of my energy, passion and enthusiasm by being around people. Spending too my time by myself leads to a deterioration of my mental health, so its things like working in a café or an office, whatever those options are, I know that I need to take those steps to be the best version of myself.
One thing that’s also hugely underestimated is working on your self esteem and developing some sort of self love, which is really hard and takes a lot of time, investment and patience – but this can really have a huge impact on your ability to challenge yourself and put yourself forward for things. It’s like a domino effect, if you don’t have self-esteem, it can have an impact on the rest of your life, that’s why I always try to encourage people to look into building their self esteem, which part of that involves a little bit more about self awareness, which can be quite scary, looking into yourself in more detail and face those realisations of the things you need to work on. But it’s important work that I personally have found completely life changing."
Do you think there’s still a stigma around mental health nowadays?
"I think we are getting better. Social media plays a part in helping us to talk about those conversations a lot more and it helps us to reach people who might be able to understand us, but at the same time there is a bit of shame because you can get people commenting.
If you compared it to now and perhaps 50 years ago then we are talking about it a lot more now but at the same time we have a lot of pressures that maybe we didn’t have 50 years ago. This pressure to be a certain type of person and to achieve things much earlier in life than we would’ve been expected to in the past, which social media plays a big part in. We are juggling quite a lot but the conversation is getting better. I think more and more people are able to open up about it. But there is still a bit of hesitation talking about it but I like to think that we are heading in the right direction."
What do you think people should be doing to raise more awareness around mental health?
"There is a lot we can do:
- Campaigning - I don’t think often people realise how little investment we have towards mental health services, so if there’s any campaigning that people can do if there is ever that ask.
- Donating - to mental health charities who are doing incredible work. I used to use Shout, an amazing charity which you could text. There’s still a bit of hesitation with getting support if it involves some sort of conversation which can put people off, where as some people may feel more confident texting or writing, that’s the benefits of Shout. Supporting charities like that so that they are able to help more people is really important.
- Listening - If somebody is opening up to you, there’s this real pressure to have the answers to everything, but you don’t have to have the answers. So saying something like “I currently don’t know how to help you but I am here to listen” is so much more valuable than preventing someone from sharing because you’re worried that you don’t have the answer. It took me personally a long time to learn how to do that. Even though I struggled with mental health myself, I’m the type of person that wants to be the friend with the answers, to comfort and make someone feel better and I suppose. But I learned that people are trained as mental health professionals for a reason. You’re not expected to be a psychologist or a counsellor. But sometimes you’re simply saying that you’re there for somebody to listen, provide a shoulder for them to cry on can go a long way. Making sure that people feel comfortable to be able to express themselves because releasing some of the pressure can have a huge impact on their outlook on their current situation. The more we make people feel comfortable being able to talk about how their feeling and the fact that they won’t be rejected, then the better the world will be and hopefully there’ll be an increase in people getting better and getting the support that they need for various mental health issues they might be experiencing."
Do you think there is any corelation between giving back and mental health?
"I think this kind of plays into why I started the blog, it was as much about it being for other people as it was for me. It was a really good outlet for me to be able to express myself and feel as though I was giving back. That gave me some sort of purpose and validation which I think during arguably one of the most difficult times of my life, that really helped me through. I appreciate that not everyone may have the time to start a blog or podcast. But there’s little ways in which you can give back that can take a only couple of minutes or even seconds out of your day. So there’s definitely a correlation between supporting other people and giving back and feeling good and lifting your day. Even if it’s something as simple as giving somebody a compliment! I’m very guilty of thinking “wow someone has an amazing outfit” but forgetting to say that out loud, where as you can transform somebody’s morning or even their day by saying that. So I think being more conscious to be kind, takes very little effort but can definitely have a huge impact.
The world that we live in, especially with social media, we can be very quick to gather a list of things we don’t have. Where as actually it can be really nice to not only register for ourselves what we do have but also encouraging others to identify what they have, with simple thin gs like a compliment on their outfit or congratulating them on the new job!"
Any final tips on how someone can practice self-care?
"I think one of the most important things I learned about self care is learning to be selfish. Now I know we all would never want to be associated with the term “selfish” – it’s never been considered a positive word. But actually what you can do to improve yourself if you want to improve your mental health & wellbeing is to learn that you are a priority. You deserve to carve out time for yourself. That doesn’t make you selfish. If you’re the best version of yourself, you can then be the best version for other people. So in a way, you are doing it for yourself but it will definitely have a positive impact on other people too.
It can be really difficult for people who are like I used to be, people pleasers, always having that can-do attitude and those who are always striving to be really reliable. It’s difficult to get to grips with because we’re not used to that, especially with this new hustle culture of being expected to be working all the time to be successful, it can be really hard to take wellbeing seriously because you feel like you’re putting that at risk. But burnout is a very serious thing as well, I’ve experienced it myself and wouldn’t wish that on anybody.
Just trial it, carve out a little bit of time over the next couple of weeks to do something that you enjoy. No excuses. Just time for you to do something that you enjoy, whether that’s reading, cooking or doing a sport and just seeing the impact that it has on your day to day life.
If we all just made a conscious effort to carve out time for ourselves, we would see a huge difference. but we are scared to take that step. Where as actually, if we put it into practice sooner rather than later, we can see the benefits a lot sooner."
Find out more about what Sophie does and check out her blog here: