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Mike King's Mental Health Tips

I Am Hope Founding Ambassador Mike King

I AM HOPE Founding Ambassador Mike King

During our first BetterMan event Quiz and Some Other Shizz we managed to raise $1200 for the I AM HOPE charity. One of the unexpected benefits of that was getting to meet Mike King. He was incredibly generous with his time and advice and it's not hard to see why he's had such a massive impact in the mental health space in New Zealand.

I was also fortunate enough to see Mike King speak a few years ago, and felt compelled to share the following report with my workmates afterwards. The information is still relevant so I felt it was worth reproducing here. The attachment at the bottom has some very useful advice which I'd recommend everyone read for not only themselves, but also so they can support others.

"Hi all,

Given it's Mental Health Awareness Week with the theme of “Iti te kupu, nui te korero” / “A little chat can go a long way”, I thought I'd share some information from a talk I saw Mike King give a couple of years ago about mental health in the workplace.

For those of you who don't know Mike King, he is a former stand-up comedian from NZ. He has had well-publicised bouts of depression and is a self-confessed former alcoholic and drug addict. These days Mike is better known for his work as a prominent mental health educator, and his unorthodox approach (i.e. plenty of swearing, poking fun at himself and not sugar-coating things) resonates with both youth and adults alike.

The key takeaway I learnt from his presentation is that mental illness stems from an over-active inner critic. Mike stated that how parents talk to their children, and how managers talk to their staff can affect a person's inner critic. It is key to show that you value their thoughts and opinions.

Mike said that he turned to drugs and alcohol to avoid or suppress his problems. He called it the "relentless pursuit of temporary happiness". He used the analogy that everyone's head is a boiling pot, and we suppress our problems by putting a "lid" on top - that lid may be drugs, alcohol, porn, over-working, over-exercising. But basically, it is a temporary measure to avoid our problems.

The practical advice that Mike gave was to let our kids and staff know that we aren't perfect. To share your mistakes and make yourself fallible; perfect people never grow. Otherwise we risk that people will not want to share with us. We should actively encourage mistakes in our kids, to let them learn from them and build up their ability to solve problems.

It is impossible to be happy all the time, we will all go through highs and lows. Mike said that the secret to good mental health is looking out - connecting with people, reminding people how much they mean to you. It can give people their value back.

Your inner critic tells you you are useless. It is amazing how much a small comment from a colleague, friend or family member can have on someone.

So, I actively encourage you all to continue to remind people of their value, it could be a small comment or why they are important in your life. Another recommendation is to let people know that you are available to listen. To be a non-judgemental ear that will be there if anyone needs to talk.

I've attached a copy of the pamphlets that were handed out at the talk that you may like to read.

I'm a big fan of the book The Resilience Project that I'd recommend to anyone (it's story-based so easy to read) and promotes the benefits of gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. There's also a podcast by the author Hugh van Cuylenburg, his brother Josh, and comedian Ryan Shelton called The Imperfects which is worth listening to. If anyone has recommendations for other podcasts or books about this topic I’d love to hear them.




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