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Katy

I’ve always been a huge advocate for raising awareness about mental health and breaking down the stigma of it in the workplace. When I found out about Dark Coffee, I was of course super excited to attend one of their events.

Dark Coffee began as a podcast in 2018 by Alice Lyons. Alice is a wonderful human and experienced depression, burnout, and suicidal feeling throughout her 20s. She is also a freelance content marketing consultant and has worked with some fantastic clients over the years. She hosts regular networking events and encourages open discussions about the good, the bad, and the downright ugly sides of business; the event I attended was a panel discussion aiming to challenge harmful stereotypes.

In the hot seats was Lewis Kemp from Lightbulb Media, Sarah Wilde from Wilde Purpose, Justin Gilchrist from Flyte, and Wendy Kendall a Chartered Psychologist. All have run their own businesses for a number of years, and been close to or encountered mental health issues.

Before the panel started there was an opportunity to network with local entrepreneurs and freelancers. Everyone was very friendly and it was a good opportunity to see how different people are experiencing business in 2020.

The main topic of conversation was Imposter Syndrome. For those don’t know what this is - “[it] refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be”. It can affect anyone at any level, and a lot of freelancers feel it walking into any new contract. The main takeaway was that Imposter Syndrome is a symptom of challenging yourself and trying something new; it’s scary and tough, but is a by-product of doing exciting, new work!

There was time for some Q&A and there were some really insightful subjects brought up. One that really stuck with me was how men and women experience and react differently to pressure; often men are seen as the confident, unyielding force that don’t experience doubt. It was interesting to hear how they too can suffer in silence and question their identity if forced to change their approach.

Balancing work and your own mental wellbeing can be tough. In 2020 more people are open to talk about their problems and businesses are finally cluing up to burnout and other mental health issues; more can be done for the lone workers, entrepreneurs, and freelancers of the world though. Dark Coffee and other similar networking events are definitely a place to start!

If you would like some mental health support, please follow this link to Mind. They are a support service that offers helplines and listening services.

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/crisis-services/helplines-listening-services/