you is kind. you is smart. you is important.

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My laptop claims to have at least 8 films on it but for some strange reason, on a train from Birmingham to London, it agreed to play just one, called, ‘The Help’. It’s about the writing of a book compiling the stories of African American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s. A book about an open ugly secret. About the courage of a few to start talking about it as a mark of protest. About the collective impact of small actions in bringing about big changes.

Yesterday was World Mental Health day and the UK became the first country in the world to announce a minister for Suicide Prevention. The day before yesterday, I learnt that Health Education England are very keen to put measures in place to prevent suicides within medical practitioners. Having been a part of the Suicide Prevention Community for the last 4 years, the one profession that is most conspicuous by its absence is Psychiatrists.

At 2 different meetings, I happened to meet 2 different Consultant Psychiatrists. On hearing Saagar’s story, one of them said he was very sorry but ‘this has been happening for 30 years’. I went blank. I just looked at him. I wonder what the public’s reaction would be if a surgeon would publicly admit that his surgical team has been making the same errors, that have been costing people their lives for 30 years. Yes. These are systemic errors. They are difficult to tackle. But, even today, youngsters like Saagar are dying because of lack of leadership within the specialty of Psychiatry, like they have been for the past 30 years.

The other, extremely prominent and respected Consultant Psychiatrist completely rubbished Mindfulness, Yoga and Meditation, without having tried any of them. He said that all these interventions have side effects. He believed that a Psychiatrist is only meant to attend to the most extreme cases. Their role comes into play only after these 5 have been called upon – parents, schools, GPs, CAMHS and Talking therapies. I am sure he knows that many youngsters die while on the waiting list, without ever getting to see a proper Psychiatrist, once. I am also sure he knows the side effects of psychiatric medications that are offered generously to all and sundry by non-psychiatrists. Lastly, I am sure he also knows how unsupported the GPs feel when faced with patients who are severely mentally unwell due to slow and inefficient response from the secondary services. And, I am sure it’s all down to poor funding. The same excuse that we’ve had for decades gone by and will have for decades to come. How about some imaginative leadership?

As parents, let’s start by saying to our kids in words and actions –
‘You is kind. You is smart. You is important.’
To me, I say – ‘I is kind. I is smart. I is important.’
You could too.

Day 769

Oxford dictionary definition of ‘tribe’ is –
“A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognised leader.”

Modern societies are diverse, cosmopolitan and fluid. Tribes and their leaders are not fixed. Leadership is made out to be something much bigger than ourselves when in fact it is embedded in things we do that have a fundamental impact on other lives while we are unaware of that impact. We are just being ourselves – kind and compassionate, funny and silly.

Marianne Williamson said that our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.

One of Saagar’s flatmates was a hidden singer. One day he invited her to join his band for rehearsals and see how she felt. They casually asked her to sing with them, which she did. Soon she became a star in their band. She sang beautifully at his memorial and recounted this story to me.

We need to value the impact we have on each other’s lives more than money, power, influence and titles. We need to create opportunities for one another, acknowledge it when someone else adds to our life, thank them for it and pay it forward.

This is our tribe and in our own special way, we all are leaders.

Ref: http://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership#t-311634