Spotlight on Kerry Leigh: a really clever overgrown toddler
Kerry Leigh is one of our lead mental health experts and facilitators. She has trained in Mental Health First Aid, is well-read in psychology and has also facilitated for the mental health charity Manchester Mind.
But it goes deeper than that. Kerry loves people, and is passionate about empowering others (and herself) with the knowledge, coping strategies and helpful signposting to improve and maintain positive mental health. If you were to ask Kerry why she is interested in mental health, she would reply with another question: Why wouldn’t she be?
Kerry is one of life’s enthusiasts, a bit like a really clever overgrown toddler. She is genuinely excited for people to learn that we all have mental health, just as we all have physical health, and that we are ALL somewhere on the mental health continuum, which can change depending on internal and external factors.
Kerry can talk the talk and she has also walked the walk, having experienced post-natal depression after the birth of her first child, as well as bouts of depression and anxiety since her teens. She is open about the fact that she tried to take her own life in her teens by taking a drug overdose – specifically a whole packet of antihistamines. We are all relieved this didn’t work and Kerry does love to joke that it permanently cured her cat allergy.
Humour is one of Kerry’s favourite coping mechanisms. Positive laughter and humour literally make us feel good, so it’s no surprise that Kerry’s background is in performing comedy and that she has been facilitating for Laughology since it began. Of course, it would be inappropriate for Kerry to make light of someone else’s mental health experience. One of the reasons she is such a popular facilitator is her knack of reading the room and knowing when it’s okay to use humour, and when it isn’t. She can also help others to discover its okay to use humour with positive intent, and how.
‘Knowledge is power’ is one of her favourite sayings, particularly in regards to mental health, as she firmly believes in giving people the power to help themselves and others; to make informed choices; to avoid bias and to create better understanding and strengthen relationships.
We always get great feedback about Kerry due to her warm and funny way of engaging with people. Here’s just one example from when she had returned to deliver a second Menopause Awareness workshop with a UK police force: A woman sat down next to her and said: ‘I thought it was you. You changed my life.’ This woman had unwittingly been experiencing challenging mental health symptoms due to the menopause which were impacting detrimentally on her work and her relationship. After attending the session and experiencing some lightbulb moments, she was then able to start conversations that led to a huge improvement in communication and support at work and at home – life-changing.
When Kerry delivers Laughology’s Wellbeing and mental health in the workplace, delegates experience similar lightbulb moments as they uncover and challenge the behaviours and language that reinforce unhelpful mental health myths and stereotypes, as well as discussing practical ways of supporting and enabling employees to have better mental health.
Kerry’s personal favourite coping mechanisms for her own mental wellbeing are humour, running (in jazzy leggings) and expressing herself through literal dance. Sometimes she combines all three, much to the amusement of her neighbours and the dismay of her children.
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