Transcript | PPP100: 

Smashing the Stigma Around Mental Health at The Mind Room with Jo Mitchell

Ellen
0:00:00 - 0:01:59
Hello and welcome to the Potential Psychology Podcast. I'm your host, Ellen Jackson. And it's my mission to share the science of human behaviour in a practical, fun and inspiring way. In each podcast episode, I interview an expert from the fields of Psychology, wellbeing, leadership, parenting or high performance. I pick their brain to uncover what they know about living well, what tips do they have for you and I and I quizzed them about how they apply their expertise in their own life. Join me as we discover simple, science backed ways to live, learn, flourish and fulfil your potential.

Welcome to a very special event here on the Potential Psychology Podcast. A very special day. Today we're bringing you our 100th episode of the show. Now I do feel that we might have made this milestone a little earlier had it not been for the myriad of interruptions brought to all of our lives by Covid 19 but here we are, 100 episodes in. Our very first episode of the show went live on the 21st of March 2018, and in the almost three years, 3.5 years since we've brought you interviews with 90 expert guests, from authors to researchers to documentary makers to parents, physicians, neuroscientists, psychologists are fast and wonderful array of passionate people who are in their own way and in their own domain, helping others to thrive, helping you to thrive. We've also brought you six special episodes from introducing you to our behind the scenes team here at PP HQ. Two interviews from the world's largest international positive psychology conference from the days when you could do things like that to celebrating International Happiness Day with audience participation - that was fun, and our Night at the Australian Podcast Awards in 2019.

Ellen
0:01:59 - 0:03:57
And there's also been a handful of solo episodes for me talking about some of my favourite topics, including motivation and procrastination. It has absolutely been a great ride so far, and I thought before I tell you about the exciting things that are coming up on the show because it is just so far, we continue onwards into our next season, which is going to look a little different, and I'll tell you more about that at the end of today's interview. I thought I'd very quickly share with you the three things that I have learned from starting, growing and sharing a podcast. Three things that have helped me, I believe, to fulfil just a little bit of my potential. Number one is just start. Whether it's a podcast or a business or a new habit or routine or a new job or a career or a project of any kind. I am a big fan of Arthur Ashe's words. Start where you are, use what you have to do, what you can. When we started this podcast, I had absolutely no audio experience, no interview experience, no idea, really at all about how to create or produce a podcast. I wasn't even absolutely sure that that's what I wanted to do. I just had an idea and decided to pursue it in whatever way I could and I've made. And I've learned from so many mistakes along the way mistakes that I will continue to make. But if I had waited until I got to perfect until I was confident that I wouldn't make mistakes when I had this clear plan as to how this was all going to work out and where the podcast would go then this show would never have launched. It would never have happened. We would certainly not have been here celebrating 100 episodes. So whatever it is you want to do, start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Number two purpose fuels. Perseverance.

Ellen
0:03:57 - 0:05:50
So if you're a fellow podcaster, you will know just how much work goes into producing a podcast episode. It is not just the interview. There are hours spent in planning pre production editing, post production, web content, social media promotion. It is a big job that, in our case here at PP involves a team of four and we're just a little indie podcast that in no way turns a profit making this show. So why do we do it? Why put in all of those long hours? Well, purpose fuels perseverance. We do it because we believe in the stories that we're telling. We believe that we make a difference even in tiny ways to the well being of you, our audience. And we do it because we all love to learn along with you every expert interview that we bring you. We also learn from we are all fulfilling our potential together, and that is the motivation that we need all of us to keep going. And the third thing I've learned is actually about you. We get wonderful feedback from you, our audience, about our show, our guests and topics in our conversations. And they come through email messages and reviews and social media conversations and even face to face occasionally when I get that wonderful opportunity, and I never know which conversation or which guests or which idea is the one that's going to strike a chord with you. Sometimes it's the tiniest comment that a guest makes, or the tiniest fragment of a conversation that we have that you tell me really resonates with you, really meant something, really helped. And I never know what those tiny things are going to be or for whom they will make the biggest difference. You always keep me guessing, and so I've learned not to overthink it, not to try to anticipate what you will or won't like or what will be most meaningful to you.

Ellen
0:05:50 - 0:07:37
I remind myself that what works for me isn't necessarily what will work for you, because we're all different. So I just try to bring you guests and topics and content that I think I hope will be interesting, that are diverse, that are thoughtful whether they're credible and practical. And I trust that you will find the little nuggets in there that you need in the moment that you are listening in.

Okay, so that is just some of what I've learned from 100 podcast episodes, there is so much more. But right now it's time to introduce you to or re introduce you to our very wonderful, very positive guest who is here to help us celebrate 100 episodes of the show. And do make sure that you keep listening in after our conversation to find out what season 11 of the Potential Psychology Podcast is going to look and sound like. Because there's something new and very exciting on the horizon.

With me today to celebrate 100 episodes of the show is the woman who joined me for our very first episode as our first guest a little over three years ago. She is Dr Jo Mitchell, clinical and coaching psychologist and co founder of the Mind Room, which is a well being and performance psychology community in Collingwood in Melbourne, Victoria here in Australia. And Jo works with people to achieve valued life goals and find meaning and live well. She works with professionals experiencing mental illness, burnout or significant stress. She has a background in the sports industry herself, and her love is working with high performance and particularly managing work and life transitions, mental illness and wellbeing. And there's a whole lot more I could tell you about Jo. But I'm going to let her tell that herself. Welcome back to the show, Jo.

Jo
0:07:37 - 0:07:43
Thank you so much, Ellen. This is my first century. So thank you for gifting me that.

Ellen
0:07:43 - 0:08:20
Yes, well, look, it's it is exciting to have you on the show. It's exciting to be able to actually mark this occasion with a bit of reflection and perhaps a little bit of projection of what we think the wellbeing and positive psychology and other related spaces might be in the next, however many maybe if we reconvene in three years' time. But before we get to that, I'd love you to tell our listeners who perhaps don't know much about, or anything, perhaps, about the Mind Room, because we have visited our listeners from all over the world and perhaps a little about yourself.

Jo
0:08:20 - 0:09:17
Absolutely. Well, we've just celebrated the launch of our new Mind Room venue. And it was a fun party, which I think is kind of key to who we are. Like we take ourselves seriously in terms of the work that we do but very much try to imbue the way that we approach psychology with with joy and creativity. So myself, I'm a clinical and coaching psychologist. I probably spend maybe a day and a half of my week still seeing clients one on one and then the rest of the time is doing podcasts like this one. But media pieces, but also working on projects that for us at the moment are that really beautiful balance of creativity, psychology and well being.

Ellen
0:09:17 - 0:09:20
Can you give us an example of those sorts of projects?

Jo
0:09:20 - 0:11:03
Yeah, one of the ones that we completed during lockdown, but I absolutely love partly because I had to get quite ingenious about recording for it. At one stage, I had my do not over my head, trying to complete the recording. Yeah, but it was a project with McClelland Art Gallery and Sculpture Park. And obviously during Covid, people couldn't get to their venue. And so they wanted to bring people in virtually. So they did some beautiful drone footage of some of their incredible huge outdoor sculptures, and we put meditations to them. So we designed a script based around the artist and the artwork. Um, so doing projects like that, which anyone can take a look online. If you look at McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park, you'll find those meditations. They're still there, but they're really just beautiful. Other projects, the more traditional things, like sitting and working with organisations and talking to them about well, what are you doing about the mental health and wellbeing space and you've got all the tick tock stuff kind of addressed, but you want to do it differently. Well, we're the group who wants to do it differently with you so setting up programmes like the Unsaid, which is also part of our public programme, which is more conversation style, cafe style and immersive event to talk about maybe topics we wouldn't normally have a conversation around. So just pushing people a little bit out of their comfort zone, but doing it in a style that is hopefully both engaging and entertaining as much as it might create some deeper reflection.

Ellen
0:11:04 - 0:11:44
Both very different and both very creative in terms of this approach to doing things differently for the Mind Room. For those perhaps turning up to the Mind Room in Collingwood, who perhaps even checked out your website as the first starting point. So most of us, I think when we think about psychology or going to see a psychologist, it's very much that traditional model of almost a medical doctor style. You turn up and there is this reception and you go and sit in a little room and you talk about whatever you're facing, etcetera, etcetera. How much of that still exists within the Mind Room and how much of it now looks completely different?

Jo
0:11:44 - 0:13:47
Well, so I think that our first iteration of the Mind Room so we're based in Collingwood and Collingwood really suits our culture and tone. It's a community that we really love, but we do work around Australia and overseas as well with some clients, so the tone of it should still feel exactly the same. The visuals of it a little bit different, mostly because when we first started out eight years ago. We didn't really have any money, and so we were just sort of scraping by with what we could do. In fact, I really love the process of decking out a whole place of gumtree and eBay, just trying to find the right pieces to look comfortable. We wanted people to kind of walk in and go. Oh, yeah, I know this. It feels familiar to me. It's more like walking into your home, but professional. So I think for a long time, psychology and psychologists have been limited by an overly medicalized mental health system, and we wanted a place to innovate, to create and to imagine what psychology can actually contribute to creating a more inclusive, healthier and more connected world. So when you walk in, we're in a converted warehouse. It's huge, as in. It's got incredibly high ceilings. It's very bright, well lit. It's got a nice industrial feel mixed with a more modern kind of I guess it's a bit of a mid century Scandinavian type of vibe with the industrial, and you're greeted by hopefully a smiling face because that's really important to us that you are hosted well when you walk in, but the waiting room is beautiful and inviting. It's not what you would typically expect from a medical practise. There's a gallery wall there, so we have a collaboration or a curated exhibition with the Dax Centre in Melbourne.

Jo
0:13:47 - 0:14:48 And so some of their works are exhibited on a gallery wall, which you can view as you come into the waiting area, and we'll change that exhibition each year. This one is called interiority, and it's really what Dax Centre is all about people living with mental health and their experience of mental health expressed through art and art therapy. It's a gallery wall you will also find in the rooms like each of the rooms is quite unique. It's comfortable work. He got a different style. We've got our we've got our crazy bird lady room. There's a lot of birds in there. Hopefully, it's not too overwhelming for people. But what we try to do is put familiar objects in places so you should see things from your childhood or from your adolescent years that are not overwhelming but just familiar objects around the place, which is all about creating a safe, welcoming warm space for people.

Ellen
0:14:49 - 0:15:03
Yeah, so beautiful and the aesthetic is obviously important. But there's a lot of thought given to it behind that as well. From the sounds of things that trying to connect people in a way that makes them feel comfortable feel safe? Possibly?

Jo
0:15:03 - 0:16:30
Yeah, absolutely. So we really wanted to take what we knew from psychology in general. And from, I guess, you know, 10 years ago when we first started this from that emerging field of positive psychology and apply it to us not just to the work that we did in sessions with clients, but to the physical environment that we welcome people into and also to take care of our staff. Because a lot of the time the life of a psychologist is is fairly lonely and isolating, and you're in a room for a long period of time. And for a lot of people on their own, especially if you're a sole trader, that takes a toll. So for us, collaboration is really key. And so we we have these shared work spaces so that nobody stays in their consulting room. They come out into the shared workspaces. There's, you know, a retreat area. There's a cafe. There's like lots of places, places to, you know, do a yoga session or one of our rooms has a rowing machine because we've got sports psychologist, so they do work where they get people on the roller and then get them to do some mental skills. So we've tried to build this in. Not so it's an amazing experience, just the clients, but also very much for our teams. So it gives them an opportunity to really shine and do what they do best, because it can be demanding work, supporting people to navigate their mental health.

Ellen
0:16:30 - 0:16:47 And so there's the kind of traditional model, I suppose, of one on one work with a psychologist, and then the Mind Room also runs a little workshops and other programmes. In fact, I think I saw something on Instagram. It's a bit of life drawing involved over the weekend.

Jo
0:16:47 - 0:18:46
Yeah, so we ran a class on the weekend, which was a combination of a local artist, Oslo Davis and one of our psychologists, Jared White, and the two of them took people through this 3 hours guided experience of drawing their inner life - so it was called inner life drawing. So the idea was, it introduced you to some art skills but it also was getting you to notice your internal experience, kind of that bread and butter of psychology. You know what you're thinking feeling and how that expresses itself in your behaviour. And to put that onto paper. So, yeah, workshops like that is the direction that we're heading in. I mean, we also do more typical kind of psycho education on managing your emotions. But again, we're recognising people are time poor. They've got a lot of options in front of them. And so we have to get that balance right of really good science and sound evidence base, but also engaging, immersive, entertaining for people as well. So there's going to be a couple of cool things coming up. We've also got a conversation with Greta Bradman, who, if people no greater, she's on ABC radio. She's a psychologist, she's an opera singer, she's got many strings to her though does greater, but she's also really passionate about values and people, understanding what their values are and really living their values. So she's teamed up with a lady by the name of Jacinta Parsons. And so the two of them are going to be talking about stories and tips and insights into how to make decisions that support a fulfilling and healthy life. So that kind of conversational style of event.


Ellen
0:18:46 - 0:19:07
And so these sorts of workshops and other events, these new directional, future direction for the Mind Room, is this pitched for everyone across the mental health spectrum? Is this about mental ill health, or is it about performance, or is it really just that insight into who we are, how we function, how we can perhaps get some tips on operating at our best?

Jo
0:19:08 - 0:21:08
I think that part of the issue is that mental health is synonymous with mental ill health a lot of the time, and it's got a lot of stigma around it. So we really wanted to create both a physical venue and an experience that smashes some of that stigma around mental health and seeing a psychologist. So we want somewhere that people are really open and proud to step in and to talk about the kind of the experience that they're having with us at the Mind Room, whether that's in a 1 to 1 session or it's in a class. So we invite anyone and everyone to come in. But if you're coming in thinking that the group or the workshops are going to be typical therapy, they're not. They're not intended as as therapy for particular mental health issues. But I think what we do is we have really fabulous psychology facilitators who understand if people that are turning up that maybe have particular mental health issues and might struggle in typical class environments, they don't have a manage and support that as well. So everyone is welcome. We get such a diversity of people turning up, which is what I totally love. And I think a lot of people look around and go, oh, they look fairly normal. So why are they here? I think it's really equalising and de stigmatising just to go. Oh, it's not just me that maybe thinks this way or worries about these feelings that turn up for me or I can get my shit together. Um, it's a normal human experience, we just hide it and don't talk about it well enough. So that's what we want to encourage people to do. So, be proud, be open and discuss the issues that really matter. Because if you don't know how to drive your own mind and body, then life gets pretty tricky.

Ellen
0:21:08 - 0:21:52
Yeah, and I can see that having this element of sort of another dimension the creativity dimension, whether it's the art or conversation or any of these different ways I suppose they're framing some of these situations are beyond what we might call traditional psycho education, which is just as you say, that kind of talky workshop type model is a great way to help people, perhaps access some of those situations to get involved. It perhaps breaks down a little. It's not just about going to see a psychologist or a psychology workshop. It's all of these other elements. And then this is just part of the important underpinning message. Is that kind of the angle you're working on?

Jo
0:21:53 - 0:22:45
Yeah, absolutely. Wherever, wherever you're at, so people will come in because they are living with maybe an established mental health issue or it's their first time experiencing a mental illness. But also people come in because they want to do better at their life, and they figure that there's something internally that's perhaps holding them back, and we can help them explore that. People probably have to say this before, but I have a delightful client who, when her friends, she said to her friends that she was seeing me after she'd been a few times, and I immediately the response was to go into, oh what's going on, are you okay? And she couldn't do them. So yeah, I'm fine, but I just want to be premium. So I love that idea of, yeah, I see a psychologist because you want to be premium.

Ellen
0:22:45 - 0:23:18
Premium. That's a good way to do it. I've had another of our guests, James Garrett, who have spoken to a couple of times who's based in the US, and he's done a lot of work for himself and then kind of brought his community along with him, and he talks about it being version two point. Oh, so that same idea of this is the upgrade. This is the premium. This is the best I can be. I'm going to invest in all of this learning and discovery in order to become the latest version of the premium version.

Jo
0:23:18 - 0:24:33
Yeah, which is which is also interesting, because when I say that as well. Like we don't want cookie cutter people as if we don't want to create everybody the same or smooth off all our eccentricity or quirks or rough edges. It's very much about finding the authentic you and the person that you want to be and that you are accepting and of who you are and how you live your life. I did read an article I can't remember who wrote a sort of slamming the emotional intelligence training and that it was creating. I guess some part of it was creating this idea that all of us should be in some ways the same respond evenly and calmly to every emotional issue that faces it. I don't think it's about that at all, But it is an interesting idea that came up in that article. I think it was in The New Yorker. Are we telling people to prescriptively how to live and how to manage emotions and thoughts and living? I hope not. That's certainly not our intention, but I think we can, for a lot of people, just make it a little bit easier by putting you back in charge of your mind, your body, your life.

Ellen
0:24:33 - 0:24:45
So creating that awareness is the first step. Because without that, we can't harness any of it, can we? We can't become the best version of ourselves because we don't even know what ourselves are.

No
0:24:45 - 0:25:32
No. Well, it's like I just renovated my kitchen during Covid. Of course, when you have time to do these things and I've got myself this really flash new oven and cooktop. Part of the motivation was I wanted to do more cooking. However, I realised that I don't know how to drive it, and because I'm not a person that's great at looking at instruction manuals, I haven't learned how to drive it either, and so I'm using it in a really limited way. It has so much more potential, and I think that that's the same for us is that we don't look at our own manual and work out how to drive ourselves in a way that helps us to realise our potential and live life on our terms.

Ellen
0:25:32 - 0:25:34
That is a great way of looking at it.

Jo
0:25:34 - 0:25:39
I compared us all to an oven, there we go. Right, that's the oven.

Ellen
0:25:39 - 0:26:32
I was thinking about the car manual. We got a new car again last year in the middle of Covid had nothing to do with Covid. It was just the time where we needed because the other one was falling apart and the same thing. It can do a lot of things, but do I have time or space to actually sit there and bother trawling through the user manual that came with it? No, we're just figuring it out as we go along, and it's not the most efficient way to do it. You know, if you think about sitting with somebody as a psychologist, coach, counsellor, whomever, as the person who can step you through some of that user manual, find out which are the bits you really need to focus on first for you know, which are the bits that interest you most, which are the features you'd most like to get access to quickly and kind of walk you through that. You know, that's not a bad analogy, really, is it?

Jo
0:26:33 - 0:27:31
No, that's right. And I think the idea of we learn better when it's applied in our everyday life, right? So probably the best way for me to learn how to use my oven is to cook more and make more mistakes and try things out as well as have the instruction manual beside me so I know how to use some of it. And so I think that coming in and going through this process over time, whether it's in a one on one format or a class format or an event format, it just helps you to understand some of these ideas and think about them in the context of your own life. And how do I apply it here in my relationship or in my workplace or in whatever part of your life that really matters to you and it sticks. It sticks better because it's real. It's not an abstract just reading through a manual for something that I don't even know if I'll ever use.

Ellen
0:27:31 - 0:28:19
Very dry. Jo, I'm intrigued. I'd like to take a little step back and see what it is you feel has changed in, perhaps because talking about the Mind Room and all the cool and creative and exciting things that you're doing as a and I love that you use the phrase community because it really does from all the messaging that goes out there from your website to social media, to the sorts of events that you put on. You do get a strong sense that this is a community rather than a physical location or a business or anything like that. So if we talk about the psychology community or the positive psychology community, perhaps what have you seen, change and grow in the last three years since we spoke last on the show?

Jo
0:28:19 - 0:30:30 I'm pretty excited about the direction that the positive psychology community is taking, because I don't know if you're saw recently the renaming of the University of Melbourne, the centre for Centre for Wellbeing Science. I think that they're very neatly sidestepped, putting a Centre Of Wellbeing Science so they didn't want to be a COW. So they've gone for CWS.

Ellen
I haven't heard of that yet.

Jo
And yeah, I was like, oh, that centre for COWS. Awesome, anyway, but the direction that they've taken where they've changed the name to be more reflective of, I think where the whole of this field is going, which is well being science, not just psychology. And I think that is the biggest thing that I see, hopefully changing. Again, we have this very segmented approach to health more broadly where you know we have specialists like the whole medical system is set up for specialists, and you can kind of understand why, because it's so hard to hold all of that knowledge as one individual like I constantly feel overwhelmed by all the things I want to know about and just can't get to stick in my brain. So this idea that we need more important than just one discipline, that positive psychology actually is contributed to by education, by economics, by social science by so many different areas. So I think that's seen that broadening. And hopefully what it also means is that we're finally seeing a more embedded and integrated psychology as a whole that it's not so unusual for us to be having these conversations about what have you thought about people's values or their strengths or what they're doing well and how to build wellbeing that that's kind of we've passed that first iteration. So I definitely see the broadening, the more acceptance of other areas of knowledge, the weaving of those things together, which is so hard it's so complex.

Jo
0:30:30 - 0:31:04
And for me, it's always been about collaboration, like we've got to collaborate and I think again, in a lot of industries, there's a competitive kind of sense of, this is my patch, this is what I do. Move on over. We don't want to do that. It's not where the best things happen. So I love the fact that we collaborate with so many different people, something like imagine your podcast if you just talk to the same person, every podcast but...

Ellen
It would be very boring. That was exactly why I can't just do a solo show because, like, nobody just wants to listen to me talk every week. I'm gonna talk to other people.

Jo
0:31:11 - 0:31:51 Yeah, I mean again, I guess you know there's people who do their own shows and they bring in diversity of ideas. But like this idea that we actually are better by collaborating with others by hearing other ideas by diversifying opinions and voices. And so I think that that's what I'm seeing is is definitely a shift away from positive psychology owning the wellbeing space. I think we've got a more nuanced understanding of it, and I think that we are seeing well being more embedded, so happiness for being more embedded in all of our work. I don't know. What do you see?

Ellen
0:31:51 - 0:33:30
Well, you know. And in fact, it was actually the renaming of the Centre for Positive Psychology as the Centre for Wellbeing Science, which kind of triggered this thinking and me. It was like an acknowledgment by and for those who are listening who don't know the centre, they do a power of work around the wellbeing space. And it is a very collaborative centre in that it's looking at well being from a range of different perspectives. It's not just a place full of psychologists, which is really cool. But I think for me too, that was an acknowledgement that, oh hang on, we have matured perhaps as a field of study, and it is the recognition of this collaboration. And I wanted to whether and maybe this has happened separately but certainly 2020 brought its challenges but I think it brought some big and positive changes in some ways as well. And I certainly for me speaking to organisations and workplaces, there are conversations being had about things like well being happiness, stress, emotions, dealing with change at an individual level, not just change. Management has been around as a management thing for years, and years. But suddenly, how do individuals cope with change? How do we adapt when things get turned upside down? And I feel like it's just escalated and elevated that conversation so rapidly to a point where the landscape really is starting to look different?

Jo
0:33:30 - 0:34:09
Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, the whole experience of lockdown life, uh, was really interesting from a mental health perspective and seeing how you know some of our clients and we've got a fairly big team, and we all kind of talk about what we're noticing. So we noticed the impact of cultural events on the individual well being of people. But one of the things that we did notice was that some of the clients that I was worried about earlier on actually really flies in lockdown. Maybe not the third lockdown, second and third but you know, they actually were given permission to simplify life in a lot of ways. Unless, of course, you have children. Your life got a lot more complicated with home schooling, but to simplify and were forced to sit with yourself and think about what it is that you want and need in your life. So I know for me, it triggered a, uh the day that we went into lockdown in Melbourne or the day before, were sitting in the park with some friends. We had just gone this sprint to get the Mind Room from 10% online to 100% online in a matter of weeks while trying to navigate the whole political landscape of what it meant from a Medicare perspective and wanting to, I guess, be able to support all of our staff and and all of our clients.

Anyway, we have this massive sprint sitting there in the park. We're having a socially distant glass of wine and I just went, what do I do now? This could go on for a couple of weeks, so I don't know if I want to be in my apartment for a couple of weeks. So I tracked myself and a bunch of my belongings into my car, got on a boat and came down to my family in Hobart, Tasmania, and arrived just before the midnight cut off the hotel quarantine, so I got in. I had to do quarantine at home in my house down here. Anyway, that I thought was going to be a few weeks that turned into 10 months, and for me, that's turned into a life change. Everything had to slow down and change in some ways. In some ways it was more intense but it also made me go, you know what, this is what I need. I need a life that has more nature, more time with family. More, I guess putting boundaries around how much I was working because I definitely can lose myself in work and forget to have a life. So all of those things really got challenged during Covid. And I think the same thing was for a lot of our clients as well is that it forced them to kind of reevaluate.

Jo
0:36:17 - 0:36:28
Now, the downside of all of this is that, speak to any psychologist in Australia, they are completely overwhelmed with clients at the moment.

Ellen
0:36:28 - 0:36:29
Aren't they? Yeah.

Jo
0:36:29 - 0:36:52
All waitlists are off the charts. And so I think it's not because we have a whole lot more mental ill health. I think we have probably the same amount of ill health. We just have more of a willingness to seek help for it, and that is amazing. Really amazing.

Ellen
0:36:52 - 0:37:49
It's fascinating, isn't it? I read an interesting article, and I can't remember where it was from now, either because probably like you read lots of things that it got, the detail vanishes but what I do remember was the messaging was around that very idea that those people who perhaps had preexisting struggles with mental health found elements of lockdown. Again, not everyone, this is a generalisation, but elements of lockdown in some ways easier. There was access that they didn't have. Telehealth gave people access. It did quiet life down. It made it a little easier. And then it was possibly those people who were otherwise mostly robust but suddenly thrown into such a different set of circumstances. I know from my own experience, remote schooling children while trying to work is that is not good for anybody's well being or the family unit as a whole.

Jo
0:37:49 - 0:38:17
It's not even actually possible when you think about how many, like it's taking a full time job and a full time job and trying to smash them together, and on top of that, have a healthy family life like it's not even really viable. So unless you have one parent or a family member who is not working and has the space and the time to do the home schooling. That's also, you know, whether you want to be doing that as well.

Ellen
0:38:17 - 0:38:21
Well, yes, yeah, the odd moment of resentment.


Ellen
0:38:23 - 0:39:47
I think you know for me it well, everybody's experience is different, and it was really interesting speaking to a number of different parents because some cruise through kids were fine, not an issue. Others it was impossible, depending on the age depended so much on your children. And I learned so much about. You know, if I look for the positives in this, I learned so much about my two children and the way they approach their work and what they need to thrive. So my little one, he needs the other people around him for even though he's not particularly extroverted. It was something around that, whether it's the standard they set or he has to rise to the challenge that is set by being immersed with other people and so doing it on his own, it just didn't work for him. So and then I'm dealing with all of that and of course, being the psychologist. I had to look at it all from a through the psychological lens of what's going on here and why this emotion and why that what's going on there? But yeah, so you can look at everything from different perspectives. But yes, I think for those of us for whom it was like oh my goodness, you've just thrown my world upside down, that is where that conversation came in. And yes, maybe that is. And I hope it has led a lot of other people to seek the support of a psychologist, even though nobody can actually service them because we don't have enough access to everyone


Jo
0:39:47 - 0:41:04
Which is the really tricky part, which is also why I think it's really important that we don't just do the one on one psychology work because we're never going to get like we can do really amazing impactful, deep work, but you're never going to get the reach. So for us it's about getting reach, and so if we can have a variety of ways that we can support people, then that's got to be good for the whole community, and for us, it's what can we do outside of the therapy room. That's what I'm really excited about and like, psychology has so much to contribute. But if we just look at ourselves as being, well, we only do psychology in the therapy room or we have a bunch of hacks that we can give you that might hit popular media or be useful in your team change management leadership programme, then we're really limiting ourselves. So, we're excited about how do we perhaps go to the places and spaces that people exist and live and love to be like it naturally drawn to and give it a layer, which is an understanding of something about either yourself or the way that you relate to others or to the world.

Ellen
0:41:04 - 0:41:49
So it becomes much more of that one to many type model that perhaps, you know, while we're thinking about what's changed over the last three years and what we want to change into the future, creating more opportunities or seeing psychology or seeing wellbeing science is it really is true that length of how do we create that one to many experience because again opportunity systems change there as well. You know, we know that the inverted commas the mental health system isn't working as we need it to at the moment, rather than trying to just keep doing more of what we already do. Let's change the system, do it differently, do it in a creative manner.

Jo
0:41:50 - 0:43:36
And I think part of it's that issue, though of, a lot of our mental ill health issues, like that, the more severe and absolutely the mental health system is absolutely necessary but a lot of article health issues are about the kind of community that we've created for ourselves. And I think that that's what lockdown and covid created was a lot of people thinking about how do I want to live my life? What matters most? Do I need to keep perpetuating this culture of busy and just running myself ragged? Because in doing that, I go into autopilot. If I go into autopilot, then I tend to fall prey to all of the joys of a consumerist society. So I think that the responsibility for mental ill health comes back to us changing culture and thus creating more open, welcoming, diverse places for people to talk about mental health. What's going on to them psychologically, how they're managing what they're doing that looks after them and giving them permission to do more of that. So, I mean, I know the things that look after me, but for a lot of stages of my life, I haven't done them. So if we can as a community, give people permission in the same way that you're talking about your son, it's like the group gives him permission to lean in and be engaged in his schooling. So I think that we need the same thing around mental health and well being is that the community supports us in taking care of what matters most.

Ellen
0:43:37 - 0:43:53
So aside from what the Mind Room are doing in that space, who else are you seeing doing cool stuff? Where else is this kind of community-led press pause be open to having conversations stuff occurring?

Jo
0:43:54 - 0:46:01
Yeah, so I see there is a group in Sydney called the Indigo Project, and I'd say, to me they're probably the only other ones that I've seen in terms of being both a psychology practise and doing something creative and cultural and impactful. So Mary Huang and her team at Indigo Project do some really beautiful work including I don't know if you've seen the death meditation that was run recently at the Opera House, and it's a combination of psychology but also music and meditation, and this really immerses a powerful experience. But you are being, I think, held by really capable hands rather than sometimes I think it's easy to kind of push people into psychological experiences that can go a little, or I, whereas Mary and the team do it really well. So Indigo Project I think that their work is fantastic. I think that anyone you know, people like yourself getting out and talking to a range of people like that has impact here. People, especially I don't know about you, but like I've been listening to so many more podcasts in the last year that I perhaps was before. But I think that that exposes us to great ideas, different thinking and the diversity of voices that we need. But otherwise I think that we probably see more good work being done by non psychologically based institutions that they're kind of going, oh well, if those guys aren't doing it, we need to, and while I think that's fantastic, I also think that there's a missed opportunity for the field or industry of psychology like we should be in there. We should be part of the discussion. What have you seen that you kind of look at and see as being exciting, innovative, doing it differently?

Ellen
0:46:01 - 0:46:05
Look, that's such a good question. I'm supposed to be the one asking you the questions. This psychologist turning the questions back on me. It's interesting. So, I've been more actively involved since the middle of covid in my local community and community leadership, which is an interesting and exciting place to be. It's not strictly psychologically related. In fact, in many ways it's not at all but I think what it does is allow people to tap into a lot of things that we know from the psychology and from the well being science makes a difference. So, I am working with individuals now who want to be more active participants in their local community. They're addressing issues that are meaningful and purposeful to them, like how do we address housing shortages and how do we ensure sustainability in our all of our different practises, even in terms of manufacturing? So these are people who are interested in identifying the issues that they feel are important for our community, for the growth and the sustainability and and the health and the well being. And you know, just everything that we need as a community to thrive and to remain resilient and to flourish and working with them, to give them the opportunity to find the avenues for doing that work, whatever that may look like for them. So getting involved in those issues and taking up leadership opportunities to drive those things and that's incredibly exciting. And I think again, it's probably in a way, and I'm only thinking of these things now as I'm saying them out loud. A way to have an overlay of, well, being science through a different avenue. You know it is, and I do lead this programme, so I always am putting in my bits and pieces around well being. So we've done some work on strengths and everything that we talk about. I have, you know, take every opportunity to pop in these little bits but it's helping people to be their best selves by contributing to something greater than themselves in this case, our local community. So I hadn't really thought about how that works, although, to be fair, a colleague of both of ours, Andrea Downey. When I first mentioned to her that I had taken on this role, she said, what a fantastic opportunity for system wide change. And I was like, uh yeah, you're right. I hadn't thought about it in that way.

Jo
She is a beautiful soul that does incredi- there's someone that does incredible work out there in the education system. You know, people like Andrea and Project Thrive and the work they do with leaders in the education space around really, uh, deep understanding of what well being is and that it takes more than just chucking people in front of a class and doing a gratitude exercise that it's about how we build our systems and processes and our physical infrastructure, that's what makes the difference. And I think if we come full circle, then that's what for me, you know, the Mind Room is a living, breathing example of what I would love to see more of out there in the community, not as a psychology practise, necessarily, but medical practises for goodness sake. God, they could take a leaf from this book speaking with it because I kind of have made the assumption a lot of the time that medical practises need to be the way that they are speaking to a young GP who came to our launch and was just like this place is incredible. I wish I worked here. I'm like, great, you can come and work for us. We need a GP, come on in, but we have that discussion as a bit of course we wouldn't have, I guess, maybe the facilities that you need as a GP and she's like, no, I can work like this and it's like, well, I always assumed that they were really sterile environments because they needed to be sterile and she's like, well, absolutely certain parts of it, but in general, no. So there is no reason why we cannot be creating these spaces and places that think about space and light and sound like all these elements you know, we've really thought a lot about, but also the emotion that we want people to experience as they come through into the building.

Jo
0:50:27 - 0:51:01
And one of the one of my favourite rooms in the place is we've got a, we're calling it the lab. Don't miss the name has landed quite solidly yet, but the lab and the lab is a place for experimentation. And so at the moment, we've got a couple of VR headsets in there. And as part of our launch, we gave people the opportunity to try the headsets on. They were so popular, it was ridiculous. People just discovering that virtual world, which is pretty amazing. I don't know if you have you, you had to go with the Oculus.

Ellen
I have. Yeah, I did it at the positive psychology conference. The international conference that we held in, had in Melbourne in July. I want to say last year, but it has to be the year before and they were doing some great work with it. You put the headset on and it took you to places where, and I can't remember the name of the mob who were doing, and I have to look it up, particularly for those people who had mobility, limitations or access limitations to get out into nature. So one of the things I tried was just probably the headset on, and it was like we're taking a trip down the Murray river on a boat and suddenly that musical experience of just being, oh, isn't this lovely to have? Im' floating, I'm gliding, the trees, the sunshine, it yeah, incredibly powerful.

Jo
0:51:46 - 0:53:31
It's amazing. So, you know, we were trying to understand How do we use these both in therapy and in practise? And there's a number of companies out there that are producing clinically based tools. But I also think that often those ones get a little bit left behind in the graphics and the latest technology. So the experience isn't quite as immersive as you might get if you were playing Beat Sabre or one of those more popular games on the headset. So what we're interested in is, well, how do we use the commercially available games and tools that are out there that are going to be really incredible quality? And how do we adapt them for our own uses in the psychology space in both of the one on one therapy experience. But, you know, I love the idea that we could drop a bunch of these virtual reality headsets into regional and remote areas, and people could pop a headset on and connect with their therapist who's back in Collingwood but we're sitting in a shed space, whether that's in nature or whether that's in a consulting room or wherever it is that you want to be. So there's so many kind of, like, interesting ways we could be using with them, whether it's as an engagement tour or whether it's for exposure for therapy of some kind or relaxation or mindfulness training, you know, so those kinds of ideas of let's take a look at what's happening already rather than necessarily going away and doing something bespoke. And how do we adapt and use that in the work that we do.

Ellen
0:53:31 - 0:53:33
Do more of what's working well.

Jo
0:53:34 - 0:53:38
Yeah, yeah, you don't have to reinvent the wheel.

Ellen
So if we were to look forward now for another three years and get together again in episode, whatever that may take us to. I'd like to say it might be Episode 200. Maybe they'll happen faster. Maybe they'll happen slower, who knows?

Ellen
0:53:50 - 0:53:52
But if we were to project ourselves forward and you really saw this vision of well being science coming to life systems, wide change, community led change. What? What would that look like?

Jo
0:54:09 - 0:55:07
Oh, so for me, it would look collaborative because I think that getting together and working our way through these issues as a community is key. So, rather than, you know, sitting up institutions or groups that just want to do their specialisation like, I mean, like positive psychology like a positive psychology for a long time, there was very, very focused and narrow and concerned about a very particular niche piece of psychology rather than looking at how that actually embedded across all of psychology or across all of the health issues that we have. So, those kinds of collaborations where you've got doctors, psychologists, economists, educators like more of those environments..

Ellen
0:55:07 - 0:55:39
Architects.

Jo
Architects? Oh, my god part of the delight of this project was working with the building industry, going, this is our vision. And they were so excited. They're just like you mean, we just don't have to do another commercial set out? We're actually doing something with purpose and meaning? It was amazing, really amazing. And for me to learn the more practical aspects of it, like compliance. Oh, my god, if there was, if you walk into the Mind Room and that's something you're going, what you doing? I'm just going to say, compliance.

Ellen
It was a rule.

Jo
0:55:39 - 0:55:41
Always compliance, like lighting levels to sound to doorway spaces. It's like oh my god, anyway, yes, so more of those collaborative, integrated, diverse groups getting together and solving, I think the issues that we face as a community. But, I also hope in three years' time that we don't have the same culture of busyness that is so embedded that if nothing else, because I definitely see that that sense of that listening during the covid period of people going- Ugh, I don't want to be that so much anymore. I hope we sustain it. And I hope that we actually keep making that localised change because I think that that's, you know, the world opened up. We can see everything happening all over the place, but actually where we can really affect the changes locally, so integrated, diverse, collaborative and local. That's the nature of businesses and organisations and the work that I hope we're seeing a lot more of in three years' time. Just snap onto that one. Ellen, get that happening.

Ellen
0:56:55 - 0:58:01
Well, you know, we have to start the conversation somewhere, so let's say you know you have to start with the vision, don't you? So that you know what it is you're working towards, but certainly for me. You know, that's an incredibly compelling vision that has already given me lots of ideas for things that I might be able to do to play a little part in that as a psychologist but also as part of my local community and just someone who is passionate about helping all of us to thrive and our communities to thrive and to flourish. So Jo, thank you so much. That conversation went in wonderful directions, as the best conversations always do. It's been a delight to have you back as our guest to celebrate our 100th episode of the Potential Psychology Podcast, and I absolutely will ensure that we have you back to celebrate again, maybe at 200 maybe before then. There's lots of cool things that we can talk about, and I will put all of the, because we've spoken about lots of other organisations, work that's being done, resources, ideas, a couple of articles that we both read that we can't remember the name of, can't put the details of those in the show notes but we will put the details of everything else I can gather together for our listeners. And of course, they can find you via the Mind Room even though you're not physically there all the time because you're in beautiful Hobart.

Jo
0:58:15 - 0:58:54
Absolutely. But we also are really excited, we've launched our physical space also, we will be launching our new website as well. What I'm super excited about with this is that I think it is a reflection of the ideas that we have talked about here today and that it is very editorially driven. So it will hopefully reflect the ideas that are coming out and the diversity of voices, while also obviously trying to showcase some of the work that we do to inspire others. And it will have a lot of those links to these kinds of articles that I mentioned and don't remember the office name.

Ellen
0:58:54 - 0:59:22
We'll have details up. Beautiful, that sounds like a fantastic resource for us or perhaps to work together. I encourage all of our listeners who perhaps have an interest or we can all have an impact at a local level in terms of helping to create our communities, our families, our organisations, workplaces anywhere we operate to thrive and that sounds like a perfect resource for people to be able to use as a bit of a launching pad. Jo, thank you again.

Jo
0:59:22 - 0:59:24
Thank you so much, Ellen. Have a beautiful day.

Ellen
It is always a joy to speak to Jo, and it's so exciting to see not just where the Mind Room and its involvement in and commitment to community wellbeing has come but also where it's going. The more we make looking after yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally, easy and normal and fun and empowering, the better chance we all have of being premium, as Jo puts it. And who wouldn't want to be premium? As always, we have included everything that you need to know about Jo and the Mind Room and some of the other events and initiatives that we talked about in the show notes for this episode. And here's that exciting news I mentioned to you about the next project for the Potential Psychology Podcast with 100 episodes and 10 seasons under our belt, now seems like the perfect time to mix things up a little. We are all in this period of such enormous disruption across the globe. Really, why not do something different. So for season 11 of the Potential Psychology Podcast, we're bringing you a special series, a collaboration with the brilliant team at Thriveability called How to Thrive. And not only will it be a podcast series, it will actually also be a web series, which is like TV on the Internet. And it will be co-hosted by me and Marie McLeod, who you might remember from a few episodes ago when I talked to her about How To Thrive, the documentary that she and the team from Beyond Edge will be bringing to the world in early 2022. And Marie and I felt that we had so much in common when we talked with so many shared goals for bringing wellbeing science to a broader audience that really not collaborating on a project just seemed out of the question. So, How To Thrive the podcast and web series was born, well, the idea was born. We're still in pre-production at the moment, and you will soon see if you haven't already some call-outs for you to get involved in the show. As we're looking for wonderful people, just like you to share a little of your everyday struggles and challenges so that we can explore them and explore how positive psychology and well being science might help you to overcome those struggles and ensure that you are really on the path to resilience, well being positive, mental health and thriving. And we will also be talking to experts in each episode, just as we always do here on the Potential Psychology show. It's really exciting, a little bit terrifying in the way that all new projects are. But we've got an amazing team, and I know that it's going to be a whole lot of fun. We're not sure of the exact release date yet with lockdowns playing havoc with scheduling but if you subscribe to or follow our show, this show, Potential Psychology on your podcast app, the new series will just slide on in to your feed as soon as we hit to go. So that is it for me today as I sign off on 100 episodes and 10 seasons of the Potential Psychology Podcast. Big thanks, huge thanks go to my team to Andy, our editor and audio producer, to Jaie, our show producer and marketing whiz and Sharry, who does all of our video content and just keeps me organised behind the scenes, not a small task, I have to say. And thank you for listening in for sharing this conversation with me and for being such an important part of Potential Psychology community. We appreciate you so much. I will see you soon. In the meantime, take small steps in whatever way you can to fulfil your potential.