Katie Keight, writer and producer of the web series 'Letting Go', opens up about her experiences with mental health and tells us why she has chosen to be a YoungMinds Ambassador.
Why have you chosen to be an Ambassador for YoungMinds?
YoungMinds is such an impressive charity and unique in the way they amplify young people’s voices when it comes to their mental health. They enable young people to take control of their future by influencing how government policies, schools, and services operate. I am utterly proud to be connected to YoungMinds and excited to bring about positive change together.
You talk so openly about mental health and wellbeing in interviews, which really helps young people who read your words to feel more comfortable to talk themselves. Did you ever find it difficult to talk about your mental health, and what advice do you have for young people about overcoming that difficulty opening up?
I started to talk to friends and colleagues about what I was going through on a daily basis. I was trying to understand my misery and madness, or as I called it my ‘double life'. I soon understood that most people identified with me in some way. After I’d open up to someone, we’d both feel better, and this gave me the confidence to open up more. I’ve been talking about my mental health on social media for years, and it's the boys who reach out to me the most. This is something I’ve been both shocked and touched by; it hadn’t ever occurred to me that they may be struggling. There's a lot of shame which surrounds mental illness which especially effects males and that needs to change.
It wasn’t always like this though. I grew up very isolated and depressed and I thought I just had to deal with it. I felt different to other kids, as though I was watching from the side-lines. Opening up to people helped stop that feeling of being ostracised and I stopped cursing myself for being who I was. Being able to get the right professional treatment has been a tremendous gift, one I will forever be grateful for. No person was put here to suffer.
You’ve made a really amazing short series online which deals with a lot of mental health issues, like alcoholism and depression – do you bring your own experiences into your creative process and do you find that helpful?
Absolutely. Last year in the Spring, I made 'Letting Go' which was inspired by real life events. I still get messages every week from strangers from all walks of life telling me they’re so glad they found it. People comment that it was like watching their own life, I think for them it feels like a weight has been lifted. Reading these messages makes my day. We really do have more in common with each other than we might think! The whole process has been very cathartic, it helped me to own my story and see the light in very dark situations.
How do you look after your own mental health now, and where do you seek support when you need it?
In the past when I’ve suffered a bad breakdown, I’ve disconnected myself from people and the world in the lead up. I’ve learnt that I have to stay plugged in.
What’s the best piece of mental health advice that you’ve received?
"Please don't give up. You have so much to live for".