Let’s talk mental health with Bryony Gordon

Do you know Bryony Gordon? She’s pretty great; a columnist, author, and podcaster, but what we admire her for, most of all, is her campaigning on the subject of mental health. That’s something that’s really important to us too.

So we’re very excited to have brought Bryony together with one of our new card creators, Frankie Rose, to bring you a new collection of Affirmations cards – each with a message of care which you can send to someone who deserves it.

100% of the profits from this collection go to Mental Health Mates – a charity founded by Bryony in 2016, bringing people together to talk mental health. Organised by people who experience their own mental health issues, groups meet regularly to walk, connect and share without fear or judgement. We’re proud to support them.

We sat down with Bryony for a bit to find out more about Mental Health Mates, and her struggles, and successes, with her own mental health.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

So, my name is Bryony. I am a writer, journalist, author, mental health campaigner, a mum. I’m an alcoholic in recovery. I’m many different things!

Who are Mental Health Mates and what do they do?

I set up Mental Health Mates when I was really suffering with my own mental health. I knew there were other people out there who felt like me, but I didn’t know how to connect with them. I decided to create a peer support group that provides a safe place for people to come together, to walk and talk, without fear or judgement, and connect with each other. We now have over 100 Walks across the UK and I am incredibly proud of the extraordinary community that it is today and how we continue to grow.

Why does walking outdoors make it easier for people to open up about mental health?

Getting outside and moving our bodies is great for our mental health and getting out of our heads. When you are feeling low, there is something incredibly empowering about simply making the decision to step outside. Once you’ve made that choice – being in nature really helps take the focus off of ourselves and on to the world around us and I think that allows people who join Mental Health Mates walks to take the pressure off and open up.

How do you find time to prioritise your mental health?

I’ve gotten much better at prioritising my mental health through setting boundaries for myself. Every day I make a commitment to my mental health, and that’s in a more practical way than just giving myself time to myself – it’s things like trying to eat well, not filling myself with rubbish, getting a good night’s sleep and exercising regularly.

What tips would you give to take care of your mental health?

Treat yourself like a baby. You may be a grown adult, but you should give yourself the level of care that you would give a baby. Never stop treating yourself like that. Feed yourself. Water yourself. Get fresh air.

Why do you think affirmations are important?

It’s easy to forget the stuff that is good for us and harder to retain it. I think affirmations are brilliant and important reminders of the things that make us feel good about ourselves. Reading an affirmation can really help us put positive behaviours into action.

Have you ever received a card that really lifted you?

A card I received was from my friend Fearne during lockdown, when she would write to me just for the hell of it, and it meant so much when it dropped onto the mat, even though we are in constant contact on WhatsApp!

If you feel like you’d like to improve your mental health, but you’re not quite sure where to start, something we can strongly recommend is the Every Mind Matters campaign. You can take a short online quiz which creates a free NHS-approved Mind Plan for you; it’s got tips and practical steps you can follow to help manage the pressures we all feel day-to-day. To take the quiz and get your Mind Plan, visit the Every Mind Matters page.

As you might have guessed, we’re also really keen on the work of Mental Health Mates. To find out more about them, including which groups are near you, visit their website: mentalhealthmates.co.uk