As it is mental health awareness week I thought it a good time to explain a little more about the reason we are supporting Tonic this year.
Since starting Southsea Coffee we feel blessed to have become part of a community. We have been allowed into peoples lives and as stories have been exchanged, we have been trusted with insights into the lives that intertwine with our shop.
Often stories shared are full of laughter and love, sometimes they are twinged with sadness and loss; the thing that links them all is human emotion. Emotions belong to us all, and sometimes just the act of sharing stories help us identify that we are not alone; that the feelings we feel are present in us all.
We are aware that for some people this is not that easy. Support and services for groups and mental health has been cut; the opportunities to come together to talk and feel part of something have been removed. For every positive piece of reporting on mental health, there is another claiming that people with suicidal thoughts should "man up" or other such misguided rubbish. Witnessing this and personal experience led our team to the decision that we wanted to support a local mental health charity this year.
After asking on social media for advice, our paths crossed with Tonic and when we met Steph we were embraced by her enthusiasm and energy - she is a wonderful human being.
Tonic Music for Mental Health is an independent not for profit set up to raise awareness and challenge stigma through music and art. Tonic put on music events to raise funds and are fully self financed as they do not receive grants or funding. The money that they raise goes directly into facilitating workshops which are open to all; providing a welcoming and safe environment for anyone to join. Tonic also supports musicians and artists financially who are experiencing mental illness through funding art and music projects that serve to promote individual recovery and provide a route to enabling the individual to earn an income from their craft.
The act of enabling those in our community who feel isolated to meet and belong to a group and using music or art to start a conversation really resonates with us. As we have found in the shop when stories are shared, hope can be found. This is, in essence, why we wanted to support Tonic; and its not just about raising extra money, it's also about helping to facilitate a conversation around mental health.
The more that we can talk to each other, the more we see how mental health can affect us all. This year mental health awareness week is focusing on relationships and the mental health foundation have set us all the following challenge:
It's a good challenge and one to be mindful of.
Some of our team are enabling the conversation in two weeks time, when we'll be shaving our heads. Three girls (with varying degrees of hair length) and its coming off on the 29th May. We'll also be celebrating the shops 3rd birthday that day - so come down and show some support between 4-6pm.