Do Mental Health Speakers Really Make An Impact On Their Audiences

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( — November 15, 2021) —

When you’re planning an event and making a guest list, you’re probably going to wonder whether mental health speakers will really make a difference to your audience. Who likes to listen to people telling you you’re not crazy, just overworked, or not thinking straight because of how you grew up? The short answer is, everyone. The long answer is – a good motivational speaker can inspire audiences to bring change in their lives. Isn’t this why TED Talks have become so popular?

Connecting With An Audience

As a motivational speaker, I can say for certain that speaking to inspire an audience is hard. It’s tough connecting to a room full of strangers, discussing topics like shame, depression, and vulnerability.

But many people are able to do it so well. Performers like Joshua Walters, who is upfront about his bipolar disorder, take the negativity and stigma out of the discussion by exploring creativity and madness on stage.

Walters entertains audiences with his mental “skills”. His “speeches” aren’t dull statements of facts and figures and symptoms. Nor are they boxed-in discussions of diagnoses or celebrity-psychologists on social media telling snarky stories about their clients. Instead, Walters uses humour (and a lot of beatboxing) to talk about mental illness. He doesn’t shy away from being intimately reflective on stage. His unpredictable antics appeal to young people. He has embraced his illness and put himself out there to inspire others to escape the negativity themselves.

And that’s the balance we want in mental health speakers for schools. The ability to put a positive and humorous spin on mental health is invaluable, especially with the youth. Laughter may be a medicine, but it also makes the medicine go down easily.

Willing To Be Vulnerable

Not every good speaker is a beatboxer and poet. But every good mental health speaker is willing to be vulnerable and share their story. James Fallon is a neuroscientist who shares his experiences with psychopathy. He puts his entire life out there for the audience to see and helps his audience relate to the things he says.

Fallon isn’t ashamed to talk about his life as a nonviolent psychopath, and that bravery is how he earns the trust of the audience. When you have your listener’s trust, you can slowly change their perspective.

Speaking To Different Audiences

Youth mental health speakers at public events play the role of inspiring young people to take their mental health into their own hands. If I had mentors to guide me through my mental health as a kid like kids can have now, I might be an astronaut or an author. But because I didn’t, I like to motivate others who need someone to make them see what they’re too stressed, or too siloed to see.

A men’s mental health speaker is likely to help male business leaders and men who deal with very specific kinds of stress and other assaults on their equanimity every day. A good women’s mental health speaker can address issues that women specifically face at the workplace, at home, in the world. The first job of a mental health speaker is to know their listeners, to be aware of their struggles, and to share a bit of themselves as they offer new ways of thinking about old troubles.

The Role Of Mental Health Speakers

One in five Australian adults experience a mental illness every year. Anxiety, substance abuse disorders, and mood disorders like depression are the most common illnesses that Australians experience. About 45% of Australian adults are affected by mental illness at some point in their lives. Clearly, the quest for optimum emotional wellbeing is as important as ever.

Many people who are still able to function with mild to moderate forms of mental illness may remain undiagnosed in the best of times. In times of crisis, they may find it difficult to manage their illness or even to seek help. Depression has a habit of being insidious that way, skewing the perspective of the sufferer.

We all know crises like losing a job, grief on the loss of a loved one, and other such life events can make us vulnerable to mood disorders like depression if we aren’t able to process our emotions. But modern therapists are realising that medication is not the best solution for these illnesses. Bringing about changes in perspective can help to break the cycle of negativity that comes with mood disorders. Changing perspectives can improve the quality of life.

Young people these days are more vulnerable to poor mental health. They are also more likely to be inspired by discussions on mental health. When kids live in families where such discussions aren’t common, motivational speakers can have a huge influence.

Helping To Get Unstuck

I know a young woman, let’s call her Ann. Ann was stuck in a rut. She was in a bad marriage that she couldn’t get herself to shut the door on. She had just lost her job. She was depressed and unable to decide what to do.

One day she attended an hour’s session at an event where a local speaker, who was also a three-time divorcee, spoke about her struggles with self-love and self-belief in marriage. She spoke about how her marriages didn’t work out because she hadn’t learned to love herself. And she suggested ways of learning to love yourself.

And that speech made the difference to Ann’s life that she didn’t know was coming. It inspired her to seek a separation to figure out what she wanted. She began studying again and went on to get a new job. On weekends, she began speaking at the local community centre, telling the youth there her story. That’s where I met her and now she’s my wife of ten years. If Ann hadn’t met the motivational speaker, she may not have been able to change her life.

Final Thoughts

Motivational speakers about mental health can help people change perspectives. They can inspire listeners to push beyond their comfort zones, with their own emotive stories of self-belief and drive.

Mental health speakers are an asset to events. If you want your audience to go home thinking about ways they can change their lives for the better, invite a mental health expert!