“My name is Naomi and I’ve got depression.”

That was the opening line from tech entrepreneur Naomi Timperley at BusinessCloud’s ‘Entrepreneurs and Mental Health ' event yesterday.

Freelance consultant Timperley, who was included in Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Women in Tech IT 2017, was one of 10 entrepreneurs to speak about different aspects of mental health.

The event at UKFast Campus attracted 1.3 million impressions on Twitter and took place exactly six months before World Mental Health Day on  October 10 to take away some of the stigma around mental health.

Timperley opened up about her experiences with anxiety and depression and stressed the importance of looking after yourself.

“I’m a work in progress; I still have to be kind to myself,” she said. “It’s okay to not be okay. Admitting that you’re not okay is not a bad thing.”

She also highlighted the importance of connecting with others, telling attendees that if there’s anything to take from today it’s to talk to somebody if you’re not feeling well.

“We all look after our bodies and health, and our mental health needs lots of love, care and attention,” she said.

Breakingthesilence.co.uk founder David Beeney discussed overcoming his own anxiety and panic attacks. He was a commercial director at Auto Trader but had spent his entire career hiding his anxiety disorder before “outing” himself in 2016.  Today he helps employers understand how to create stigma-free environments.

The audience also watched a powerful video by university student and UKFast intern Lewis Davies about how social media accounts of celebs like the Kardashians was creating unrealistic expectations of body images among young people.

Nick Entwistle is the creator of One Minute Briefs, which challenges the creative community on Twitter to respond to briefs within one minute.

He shared how having a heart-attack at 26 impacted both his physical and mental health. “One thing I have definitely done since the heart attack is change my thinking on things,” he said.

“I don’t tend to worry too much about the little things and let myself get stressed out any more. I’ve adopted the philosophy of quick thinking and making things happen.”

This philosophy helps him do good things and give something back with his platform, realising the power of the community after raising £80,000 for a young girl with cancer off the back of a One Minute Brief.

“If something happens that’s bad now I just think it doesn’t actually matter in the grand scheme and just let it go whereas before this I would get worried,” he said.

LIFECYCLE Coaching founder Rob Mitchell-James told the audience it’s important to think of mental and physical health in the same way.

“We all have mental health,” he said. “We all have physical health and we’re absolutely fine with the fact that we have different degrees of physical health between us.

“Equally, we all have mental health and it’s with us. It’s been difficult to talk about historically because of the stigma attached to it.”

Katrina Cliffe (pictured below), founder and MD at KC Communications, opened up about losing her baby 20 weeks into her pregnancy and the subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder she suffered.

Katrina speaking

She said: "I didn't feel I had a mental health issue. I thought I was just really unlucky.”

Franky Rousell from Jolie Studio discussed the effects that environments and workplaces can have on mental health, something she came to appreciate after her mother was hospitalised.

Unicorn & Co founder Julie McGann faced isolation and uncertainty in her entrepreneurial journey and said: “Nothing prepares us for the highs and lows of an entrepreneurial journey.”

Comedian Jake Mills opened up about his attempted suicide and how counselling and medication didn’t help him. He set up Hub of Hope to help others find mental health support near them.

Chris Bird, founder and CEO of PR firm The Bird Consultancy, shared the devastating personal story about the murder of his mother by GP Harold Shipman and the impact it had on him.

The event, which was attended by more than 70 people, was co-hosted by BusinessCloud editor Chris Maguire and UKFast’s marketing director  Kristina McGuirk.

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