Jacqui from the Local Rag caught up with Ruby Gibbs who has used her background to create a mental health resource.
Tell us about what you have produced?
I have created My Mental Health Toolbox. It is a small booklet filled with mental health tips that will hopefully inspire people to prioritise their headspace and provide them with tools to use when they need to lift themselves up out of a bad period.
What inspired you to create the booklet on a personal level?
I created the original Toolbox for my sister in May of this year when she was having a hard time. I know that sometimes talking to your big sister isn’t necessarily the first port of call but I really wanted to help her. I have a degree in psychology and am so passionate about the way we talk about mental health and our communication around it and I just wanted to share with her what I have learned in my life and the tools that I have in my toolbox. I got out my colouring pencils and just started creating. It was quite a cathartic experience for me too. Then, on the same day that I gave it to her, I found out that a friend of mine had taken his own life. Losing an incredible friend to suicide is something that I never thought I would have to experience, especially in a group of friends who talk openly about their mental health. It can make you feel pretty confused and helpless and I just needed to do something positive to help myself heal from that pain. Our suicide rates in New Zealand are so scary, especially among young people and I felt like I needed to do something to inspire change, however small.
Did you intend to make it available to a wider audience?
When I started making it, I truly thought it would go no further than my sister. But she really loved it and immediately shared it with all of her friends. I got so much positive feedback from them and it quickly spread through my community. Everyone encouraged me to pursue it further and design and distribute it throughout Whaingaroa. The love and support helped me through such a tough time, after losing my friend. It means so much to me on a personal level and I hope it can be of service to even one person. I believe that change starts in our communities.
What is your vision for this project?
My vision is to create something that is genuine and thoughtful and that can be used as a resource for people to talk about mental health. I want it to be a starting off point, to give it to someone when you’re not quite sure how to approach a conversation but you want to show your support. I want people to give it to their friends who they know are struggling, or to their friends who seemingly have it all together. I want it to be your reminder to prioritise yourself. I want it to be something tangible in a space where things are so grey and difficult to talk about. If it facilitates positive change for even just one person, I’ll be stoked.
Who are you collaborating with?
Well I can barely draw a stick person so I’ve collaborated with a group of friends and artists who have all brought their own unique spin to this project; Molly McCabe, Ayeesha Geros, Lucy Galbraith, Fleur Rubingh and Ariel Hughes. These incredible women have been so receptive to this idea and have put in a lot of time creating the art for the booklet. I could have never done without them!
When will it be available for those who would benefit from adding it to their tool kit?
Well, we plan to have this printed and ready to launch by the start of December, so that it is in stores for summer. Just crossing our fingers that Covid doesn’t get in our way! You can follow us on Instagram @mymentalhealthtoolbox where there will be updates on the release and sneak peeks of some of the incredible artwork.
What is your message to those who are struggling with their mental health?
Prioritise it! Make it top of the to-do list every day. Life is damn hard sometimes, and a global pandemic really doesn’t help, but if you treat yourself with kindness, things can get a little easier. Figure out what tools work for you and remember that it is a lifelong job. Give it time, and give yourself grace through it and I really hope that you can start to see positive change.
If you would like to stock and display the Toolbox in your business, please email Ruby at firstname.lastname@example.org. This will be a free resource with an option to give a koha.