Since September 2018, the Foolish Optimism Working Group have been working together to promote open and frank discussion of mental health. From promoting the launch of Foolish Optimism, to touring Scotland together, to continuing the discussion in our communities, we have also become close friends. For many, it has been a profound experience.
We asked the Working group: What does Foolish Optimism mean to you? Here are their answers.
Foolish Optimism challenged my own views and understanding of mental health. Prior to the project I had heard of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions but I didn’t dedicate time to trying to understand them. I was focused too much on maintaining a job and being seen as holding myself together. Foolish Optimism forced me to challenge my preconceived notions, increase my empathy and awareness, and become a stronger, more insightful, compassionate person.
Foolish Optimism gave me the opportunity to meet people who had similar experiences to me, and to learn coping skills from them. The most powerful thing for me was the recognition that I wasn’t alone with my problems.
Foolish Optimism has been, if not the best, one of the best projects that I’ve ever been involved with. It’s given me an opportunity to share my story and experiences and I’ve been able to meet good people along the way. I’ve had people approach me about the movie saying it’s influenced and inspired them to open up and talk about their issues and life’s frustrations.
Foolish Optimism has helped me understand so much more about mental health. With the groups I run I meet a lot of young parents showing signs of depression and Foolish Optimism has helped me better recognise the signs. And now I am learning how I can help them.
Foolish Optimism to me is the way I contribute to the events that take place attempting to spread the message of hope to young people who may be experiencing mental health difficulties. Foolish Optimism is to me is continuing the conversation with young people about mental health and hope across the country with the aim of defeating stigma. Foolish Optimism to me is about promoting communities to come together to support young people and their families battling mental health challenges, and in doing so creating a positive atmosphere to achieve this.
I have been involved since the start of the project and I think it has moved on so much since we started; it started as a simple idea to talk about mental health and it has since travelled all over Scotland and I have spoken to a lot of great people through our travels. We will keep showing the Foolish Optimism film, making new ones and continue relaying the message of hope those with mental health conditions and issues need to hear.
I joined the Foolish Optimism Working Group because I want the mental health system to improve. Foolish Optimism has helped me realise that I am not alone; there are so many people (younger and older) who have the same sort of experiences as myself. I was surprised at how open I was telling my own story to a group of what were strangers at the time. Also, I feel very humbled by the fact that the people we met on the 2018 Foolish Optimism tour shared their personal stories with the Working Group.
Foolish Optimism has been one of the most honest processes I have been a part of – thoughtful, mindful, forward thinking, gentle, reflective, and kind. It has been a mental health hug: just people sharing real experiences that we all connect to. It has made me realise that everyone needs hope – and that when that hope is shared and gifted to others, we can generate enough energy to exert positive change, raise awareness of mental health, and support those around us.
The Foolish Optimism project came around at the right time, so for me this was the beginning of a sense of belonging and purpose. Organising and leading the poster campaign workshops have opened my eyes to how open young people are about discussing mental health, their experiences and personal stories. I was amazed to see every individual interact and have a voice through an artistic medium or spoken word. Through the Foolish Optimism journey, it has been comforting to recognise repeatedly that no one is alone, the feelings or thoughts you may experiencing are shared nationally. The experience so far has been emotional but rewarding. It is incredible to see the project grow, as well as all of the individuals who have been a part of it, including myself.