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Getting to know: Bryony Gordon, the founder of Mental Health Mates

THROUGHOUT JUNE WE ARE PARTNERING WITH MENTAL HEALTH MATES, AND HELPING THEM RAISE FUNDS BY ADDING A DISCRETIONARY £1 TO YOUR LUNCHTIME BILL AS PART OF OUR ‘LIVE YOUR LUNCH BREAK’ CAMPAIGN. THE DISH CAUGHT UP WITH FOUNDER, BRYONY GORDON, TO FIND OUT WHY SHE SET UP MENTAL HEALTH MATES.

What were the driving forces behind setting up Mental Health Mates?

It was a need to meet people like me, I was desperate to meet other people to know that I wasn’t mad! A mental illness isolates people so the key to getting through that is to connect with people.

Where would you like Mental Health Mates to be in 5 years?

In every town, City.. Country! All over the World. That’s where I’d like it to be. I’d love for you to be able to type in your postcode and up pops the nearest meet up.

What are your views on social media having a negative impact on mental health & what do you do to control how much time you spend on social media channels?

I think that with social media it’s how you use it and if you use it well it can be an incredibly powerful and positive force. So, the things I do is that I don’t follow anyone that obsessively users filters or photoshop, I don’t use them myself. I follow activitst and people that keep it real and I think it’s always important to keep looking up instead of down. That is one of the most important things for you mental health – at the weekend I put my phone in a draw – I try and treat it like a work thing. Because I could get annoyed by it but if you don’t check it – you can’t be. I’m sure in ten years time we’ll be horrified that we didn’t give ourselves a daily limit.

What are 4 key pieces of advice you would give to your younger self now?

    1. Be kind to yourself
    2. Be yourself
    3. Shame dies when you expose it to the light!
    4. You don’t need anything but you.

In your opinion, is there enough support available to those with mental health issues?

No!! And that’s why MHM has been set up – that’s why I do what I do.

What would you suggest the government and other institutions can do to help people suffering from mental health?

If you invest in your employees and people’s mental health, it pays dividends to your company. And allowing people to be able to take a sick day for their mental health and offer them the support to normalise it and letting them know they shouldn’t be ashamed. The more people talk about their mental health and then more the large institutions allow for this to happen – the more the government will be forced to react and take action.

What is your favourite meal to cook at home and enjoy with your family?

I’ll be honest – I’m not a massive cook. I always soak a chicken in lemon juice, olive oil and. I keep it simple and love a one – pot thing where I can chuck in lots of garlic. I try and be intuitive and not go by the book. My one hack actually – food that you’ve cooked yourself always tastes better and is one of the best ways you can love yourself. It’s an act of self love – you’re nourishing yourself and it’s easy to chuck in a takeaway or get a Deliveroo, and now, you sit down and you make yourself something there is a real boost to your own self-esteem present.

Do you have a favourite chef?

I love Melissa Hemsley and you can’t go wrong with Jamie Oliver.

When you’re not writing – what activities do you like to do?

I love to read, not my own books – others! I love running in the park. I also a bit addicted to Urban Massage – this is super decadent but since giving up alcohol, I definitely have a massage every week… It’s a lovely act of selfcare! That’s my thing. I love a day knowing I don’t have anything to do – and I can just potter around with my family. I hate following a plan!

Who would be your top 5 dream dinner party guests and why?

I’d want it to be relaxed and I think I’d like my daughter to be there, I’d like.. Maya Angelou – because she’s Maya.. she’s dead.. can you have dead people or a mix of both? Michele Obama, and then obviously Barak because I wouldn’t want to be rude… Adele would be really fun and then.. I’d like.. Dame Stephanie Shirely.

Bryony’s new book ‘you got this.‘ is out now. Buy now.

Support Mental Health Mates throughout June by dining in one of our restaurants.