The London launch!
Our launch event has happened.
And HOW! Want to know how it went??
Well . . .
After a colossal month of preparation, over 40 photo shoots up and down the country, countless late hours of editing, designing and finalising the whole Headcase app, T-shirt design and printing, venue searching, publicising, writing, emailing, content-gathering, printing mountains of posters, vinyl and quotes, getting Headcase stamps, stickers, pens, badges and bags custom-made, a lengthy and often desperate search for the Head Case itself, a trip to Ikea to put 40 huge photo frames onto three enormous trolleys and then attempt to get them all to around the shop, to the till, and out to the car . . . on my own (and refuel with hot dogs and pickled herring, obviously), stocking up on double-sided tape, Sharpie pens, luggage labels, paper, card, all followed by a very hot drive to London with a car loaded to the ROOF with it all . . .
. . . WE DID IT!
Two of us stayed up until nearly 2am hanging all the portraits, sticking up miles of vinyl quotes and imagery (not sure if you’ve ever tried sticking vinyl lettering to a wall, but it’s a HECK of a fiddly, slow job!), sticking the posters and Kapa board mounts to yet more miles of white walls, setting up the merchandise table, polishing glasses, and making far too many trips to the Prêt across the road for yet more gallons of caffeine and sandwiches.
After a nervous and excited 4 hrs of sleep, at 9.30 the next morning Headcase’s official launch in central London OPENED.
And . . . you came!
We had no idea what to expect, but what actually happened was more special, beautiful and uplifting than I could ever have imagined.
From random passers-by, drawn in by the GIANT #whatsinyours on the long wall by the door, to tourists from all over the world, students, mental health champions, people who knew nothing about mental health but wanted to learn more, students who were part of the exhibition who had travelled hundreds of miles with their parents to be there, volunteers handing out flyers and inviting people in, to the evening event with lots of contributors, friends, and people who had heard about the work we’re doing at Headcase and wanted to support it.
We had YouTubers, film-makers, TV and radio people, business owners, doctors, psychiatrists, friends of friends, and, for me most importantly, all of my children. I even think they were a little bit proud of what their crazy mother is doing!
What I loved most, apart from finally meeting face to face some of the many of you who have contributed to Headcase (what a joy to meet you!!) was seeing people who know nothing about it at all come in, wonder what it’s about, stand quite quietly and shyly looking at it all, walk around the whole exhibition, read the posters, and then come to me to say that they think it’s absolutely fantastic, and they want to know more, and support it further.
This happened time and time again, all day.
I had SO many lovely, honest and moving talks with people from all over the world, of all ages, backgrounds, professions, and experiences with mental health issues, who had never seen anything like Headcase before and just wanted to say how much they loved it, loved reading the stories next to all of the portraits, and wanted us to carry on.
When you work 7 days a week for no money on a project you hope will help people and you get feedback like THAT, it really makes it worthwhile!
We sold T-shirts, lots of people wrote their mental health experiences on luggage labels and put them in the Head Case to start it on its long journey, and all in all the whole event was overwhelmingly positive and beautiful. And I thank you all for it!
The only negative thing in the whole experience was that someone walked off with two lovely and expensive Headcase T-shirts that they promised to pay for online after the event, but never have - effectively costing us more than the prices of their discounted ticket and increasing our personal debt still further. Excellent work, thank you! But hey. If there’s one thing we've learned at Headcase it’s to let the little things go, and know that there are so many fantastic people out there who do good, who volunteer to help and who go the extra mile to be a brilliant person, it’s better to focus on the good than sweat the bad.
It’s much better for your mental wellbeing!
After the enormous effort of the launch itself, followed by the exhausting clear-up (we were taking down all the artwork, peeling tiny pieces of sticky tape off the walls and sweeping the huge floors for 6 hours the next day!), loading everything into the car, driving it all back home and carrying it all up into the attic, we took a few days to process everything we had learned from the launch (possibly in a pub or three….) and where to take Headcase next.
The main conclusions and plans are these:
1. To carry on – of course! We’ve only just started! And it’s going to get better and better.
2. To take things more slowly, and move from 7 (unpaid) days a week to 2. When you run a mental health platform helping others look after their mental wellbeing, you have to practice what you preach look after your own too! Mine was taking a battering with the work-load, and the symptoms I spend so much time educating others about, were really showing in me. So it’s time to work at a more manageable, healthy pace, and not hit burnout every three months. I can’t be any use helping anyone, if I myself am broken.
3. Not to worry about publishing material every day – better to do less good stuff, than work ourselves into the ground trying to do what, truly, requires a team of about 20 people to do.
4. Enjoy it! Headcase is a wonderful, positive thing. The moment it becomes a massive source of stress, worry and exhaustion, is the moment it stops being what it should be.
5. Do more talks and events, in schools, Universities and businesses. These are always SO popular, hugely fulfilling for me personally as I can SEE the good its doing immediately, and I get to talk to a lot of lovely people afterwards, and they do a lot of good. If you'd like me to come and give a talk where you work or study, just drop us a line!
6. Keep publishing YOUR words, your experiences, your incredible contributions to this mental health revolution we’ve started. If you'd like to contribute any writing at all, be a podcast guest or suggest someone, check out the 'Want to write for us?' page and let us know.
There is lots more, but now that we’re really up and running, we are ready to keep building Headcase gradually, and to help as many lives as we can.
We can’t thank you all enough for coming to the event, for every single bit of support you’ve given us, from encouraging tweets and emails to articles, columns, pieces of writing of all sorts, financial donations, and simply spreading the word.
We cannot do this without YOU.
Lastly, do always try to remember that Headcase is run by ONE person. Me. Other than my designer who works on the images you see on the site, I have no ‘team’, no PA, nobody answering emails, commissioning articles, editing them, uploading them, setting up podcasts, doing the interviews, editing them, getting all the publicity, doing to the marketing or refilling the ink cartridge.
It’s just me. And I have a full-time job as a writer and broadcaster. And three children. So . . . y’know. It’s a TAD much to keep on top of, if we're honest.
But I love it, I love the good its doing, and I ain't about to stop.
It's just that if correspondence or publishing things happens a little slower than we might all like, just know that I am doing my absolute best to do as much as I can to change the face of mental health and help 1000s of people – without trashing my own in the process.
It’s genius, really.
Thank you again to all of you.
Do pleeeeease download the Headcase app if you haven’t already, pop across to the Headstore if you’d like to buy a T-shirt, keep us stocked with caffeine or train tickets, or contribute in any way.
And keep sending your writing! This is YOUR site. You make it what it is.
Let’s keep this going, and grow from here.
Keep well, and keep looking after your heads.