Mental Health Awareness Week at Vortexa

Mental Health Awareness Week at Vortexa

Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event designed to educate and raise awareness of the importance of looking after mental health. To mark this occasion we invited special guest Josh Connolly, one of the UK’s most influential mental health advocates to speak about his own experiences.

19 May, 2023
Jessica Irvin
Jessica Irvin, Head of Operations & People

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week Vortexa invited special guest Josh Connolly, one of the UK’s most influential mental health advocates, who regularly speaks on BBC, ITV & Channel 5 news and has contributed to mental health policy, to speak about his own experiences. He has also spoken in the House of Commons, contributed to mental health policy, and even advised the scriptwriting team on Hollyoaks.

Josh has run resilience workshops for village schools and global brands alike. Additionally, he is an ambassador for Nacoa – a national charity supporting people affected by a parent’s drinking.

Josh, please could we start with you introducing yourself and telling us a bit about your story?

I am a resilience coach who works with individuals and organisations to help them get a fresh and new understanding of what resilience really means to them. I do this because of my own personal journey of having a severe breakdown when I was just 24 years old working for a manufacturing company as a transport manager seemingly doing well in my career I had what was a very serious emotional breakdown and it made me turn and look at what I saw my life as and question how does someone like me end up in this way and it made me really want to develop a new idea of what resilience is.

Josh, you share a lot about the importance of resilience. Could we ask how you define resilience? And in addition, how you don’t define it?

Resilience in the dictionary is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and it uses the word toughness, I always separate toughness as being part of the resilience. Toughness is the ability to be able to bit down on the gumshield or grit your teeth is probably a better term, and just get through things and push through. My overall resilience strategy needs to be way more about self understanding myself on a deep enough level so that I know when to take my foot off the gas and when to bend and distort out of shape rather than just to try and tough it out all of the time. When I tough things out I’m heading towards a breaking point when I rest and recharge that’s when I allow myself to spring back rather than to keep moving forward. I wouldn’t define it as finding a way to deal with everything by myself and its certainly not believing you need to do things on your own, its certainly not avoiding the truth and pretending that everything is ok, it’s much more self understanding and knowing yourself on a deeper level.

Finally, how do you help others to access their resilience?

The biggest piece for helping other people access their resilience is helping them to explore their experience in its entirety, to see their truth to see the resources they need to gather and to build into their life, and the way you do that is by holding space, non judgemental listening, not jumping to fix or offering advice but rather metaphorically holding their hand so they get to explore their experiences.

Jessica Irvin
Head of Operations & People
Jessica Irvin
Jessica is Head of People & Operations at Vortexa and is responsible for hiring, learning & development, culture, engagement, performance management and leading expansion plans.