Oliver Chittenden, Founder of Head Talks


Whatever it takes

When I flew home* to my wife and young daughter, having spent weeks in a hospital in Nashville, where one-by-one my internal organs had started shutting down in a catastrophic physical response to repressed mental stress, I knew I had to make a profound difference.

I wouldn’t just work hard to maintain my own newly-recovered mental wellbeing. I was determined to contribute to a sea-change in how we approach and think about the whole area of mental health.

How I would do this stared me in the face every day I went into my office.

As a speaker agent representing some of the most interesting, most inspiring public speakers in the world, I was ideally positioned to do what the subject of mental health desperately needed: to be brought into the open.

People like me needed information, the answer to questions that had tormented me and compounded my illness: What’s wrong with me? How did I get here? How can I fix it?

We needed inspiration: How do I keep going? Who can I listen to? How can I find hope?

Finally, we needed to be free from the stigma that clings to mental illness, and so able to talk freely.

Because without this we are blocking learning and teaching, the provision of those tools that are necessary for our recovery and the maintenance of mental wellbeing.

So Head Talks was born.

What’s it all about?

Head Talks hosts short talks that will inform, inspire and engage everyone with an interest in mental wellbeing.

You’ll find psychiatrists, academics, yogis, authors, meditation experts, politicians, nutritionists and many others with a keen interest in the mind. But you will also find people who have suffered from mental ill health, who have managed their illness and live a stable, happy and purposeful life.

People will be able to use Head Talks to create their own toolbox to fix and maintain mental wellbeing. You can take away ideas, coping strategies, practices, mantras, disciplines. If you liked what, say, an acupuncturist or meditation expert said you can try these out in your own community. You might be surprised at what you find or how it helps.

And by bringing these issues into the open we will help dispel the stigma that hangs over the area and inhibits people from learning about their illness and doing something for themselves.

My own personal mantra? ‘Whatever it takes’.

I am unbelievably passionate and very excited about the positive impact this initiative can have on the mental wellbeing of those that discover and explore Head Talks.

Outside my family, it’s probably the most important thing I’ll ever do.

Head Talks is for everyone. Every one of us will be touched by mental illness at some point in our life, either directly or through someone who is close to us. Every one of us should have an interest in the mind and keeping mentally fit, and we will all benefit if we can talk openly about mental illness.

How can you help?

Please help me share this free content to open up the conversation and help those that are quietly settling for an unhappy life or are in desperate straits and urgently need information and inspiration.

Tell people about Head Talks: work colleagues, friends and family, neighbours. Tell them via email or social media; share one of our videos on Facebook. Tell people at the water cooler, down the pub, in the park, at the school gate.

Could you do more?

We believe our mission deserves to be supported with excellent content. So we have aimed to make these talks excellent examples of video and audio production. They have taken nearly a year to put together, involved a committed and expert team – and been largely self-funded.

We really want to do more of them and also take Head Talks into communities, workplaces, schools.

We would love you to help us to do more Head Talks – please donate here.

I’d be hugely grateful. And, in case you were wondering, we’re registered as a CIC, a Community Interest Company, dedicated to benefit the interests of people who are touched by mental health.

Keep in touch! Sign up to our newsletter here.

Bye for now – I look forward to seeing you again.

* I need to credit Brene Brown, renowned Professor of Vulnerability, whose retreat I attended, for aiding my recovery.

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