Toyosi Adeloye, an advocate for mental illness, founded WE Matter UK ™ (WMUK), a non-profit organisation that specialises in mental health, which is an accessible platform for local communities to gather and receive professional advice from mental health experts such as counsellors, life coaches, psychologists and therapists. Toyosi talks to us about her own journey with mental health and why she started WMUK.
I’m often asked why I decided to start WMUK, in the midst of full-time employment and a master’s degree. Growing up in South London, it was just my mum, my younger brother and me. My childhood had fun moments but was also pretty rough in a lot of ways.
Somewhere between growing up without a father, hitting puberty, going to university and trying to be an independent woman, I completely lost myself and felt very alone. I eventually found myself completely withdrawn from society, even though I was a fully functioning adult who went to work Monday to Friday and to church on Sundays!
“There was no desire to wake up and start a new day due to a constant, overwhelming urge to end it all”
I was left with no social network or friends because I was pretty mean, and angry at the world. I had a strange and intense anger at everyone and everything. There was minimal motivation, and sometimes no desire to wake up and start a new day due to a constant, overwhelming urge to end it all. At the time, I couldn’t understand it, neither did I want to. My mum was just as confused as I was, as she hadn’t witnessed anything like it. I was simply told to “just get out of the house” and “go find some friends”. In contrast, my brother was hugely popular, and hadn’t really noticed a difference.
I now realise that at the core of it all, I was a part of a family that loved each other, but rarely communicated or knew of any real ways to support each other. We all had underlying issues stemming from our own personal traumas like the breakup of a marriage, rejection and bullying. But we couldn’t recognise each other’s struggles or find ways to tackle the issues together. In retrospect, I now realise how beneficial a form of therapy would have been- not just for me, but also for my immediate family. Our relationships increasingly suffered over time, and between the three of us, we struggled to express our feelings and were not aware of each other’s.
Why WE Matter UK
Options of therapy were not as accessible as they should have been when I needed it. Dance or art therapy was rare, both of which I would have loved to be involved in. The NHS is invaluable and a great service, but an over-saturation of the service meant a waiting list that lasted for months and was unavailable for those who required urgent help. On the other hand, private care was very costly and out of reach.
According to the World Health Organisation, 1 in 4 individuals are affected by at least one mental disorder, with the majority having experienced it personally or indirectly with a loved one. As the number of people suffering from mental illness rises, and individuals become more isolated, support from families and close friends is desperately needed. As a result, many are seeking an accessible solution that not only helps the individual, but also the supporting network that are indirectly impacted, but often forgotten. Discussing thoughts and emotions with a distressed person can be difficult, and the supporter may find themselves asking questions like:
“How can I support this person effectively?”
“How can I, as a mother, repair the strained relationship with my daughter?”
“What options of help are available for my younger brother?”
“My spouse is struggling; how can I salvage our marriage?”
It was therefore essential to initiate the idea of forming an accessible platform for local communities to gather and receive professional advice from mental health experts such as counsellors, life coaches, psychologists and therapists.
WE Matter UK was birthed to do exactly that. Together, as the larger community, we can build stronger relationships between loved ones, family members and friends.
WMUK plans to host frequent events throughout the year, which will uplift and strengthen individuals that are both directly and indirectly affected by mental illness. We present a mediating, safe space at these events, which will be based in different local communities, starting with inner-city London.
As a facilitating platform that connects families with mental health professionals, our events will deliver engaging programmes for all, with tips that can be applied thoughtfully and practically.
Interactive Q and A sessions, group workshops and presentations are integrated in our programme, and the professional help provided will enable you and your family to navigate through various issues. WMUK therefore invites all to network freely at our upcoming event with professionals who are qualified to advise and counsel you and your loved ones in an experienced and reliable way.
If you are interested in being a part of our organising team or would love to be a part of the launch night, please leave your details on our contact page on our website at wematteruk.com/contact.
Our Launch Night will be a taster evening, and an introduction to our organisation taking place on the 31st May 2019.
Registration is absolutely FREE of charge and tickets are still available at wematteruk.com/events.