March 5, 2019, at 11:00am
“When you are suffering from mental illness, you may struggle to speak with friends and family about what is happening because it’s a raw and painful experience. For many people, talking can be incredibly hard.”
Using her personal experiences, OU Nicola Clarke (Fd 98) has created MY BLACK DOG, an online community platform that supports people with enduring mental illness. It is also a resource for blogs, articles, links to counsellors and alternative therapies. “Anything and everything to make living with mental illness that little bit easier”, adds Nicola.
She wanted to create a private online space where people can talk to a volunteer who actually ‘gets it’. By creating a confidential chat function for users, it allows experiences to be shared which is most important as people with mental illness can feel very alone in their suffering.
This year’s International Women’s Day focuses on “balance for better” something that Nicola is putting into action with the MY BLACK DOG platform. We asked her a few questions:
OU team: What are the issues facing women today?
Nicola: This is a unique time in history for women, we are beginning to see a real and substantial shift in power. However, considering the incredible movement’s #metoo and #TimesUp, the change should be greater. When it blasted out across the world, I was expecting something seismic but sadly we are still facing some of the same issues. Weinstein's still not behind bars, the gender pay gap hasn't closed and men in power are still not held accountable for criminal acts - for some reason they get promoted instead! The scales are not even, the fight's still on.
OU team: How can we help or contribute
Nicola: I think it's important to recognise the good guys. There are so many situations I have been in when I felt ostracised and diminished because I am a woman. I am, however, fortunate because I have intelligent, supportive male friends and colleagues who call out this sort of behaviour and will always fight my corner with me. If we are looking for balance we should recognise that this is not a gender war, the respect needs to be mutual.
OU team: What can we do to support one another
Nicola: Do. Not. Compare. Yourselves. You will not be able to support anyone if you are doubting yourself or believing you are less than the people around you. With the upmost kindness - get on your own team.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #balanceforbetter and we would love to hear how you are helping to achieve this. If you would like to share your story and tell us how you champion equality, please let us know via our Social Media channels:
LinkedIn: share your business or professional news on the dedicated OU network
Instagram: upload your photo using the #’s #OU and #balanceforbetter
Facebook: tell us which women most inspire you, adding #OU and #balanceforbetter
Twitter: share your business or professional news, adding #OU and #balanceforbetter