Hey folks! Hope this post finds you well! To start off a great week and all that Monday Motivation, I had the pleasure of interviewing Si from Heads Above The Waves, a non profit organisation providing hope and help for people who are struggling with self harm. I loved how I reached out to Si a while back, as he found me through my post over on Rethink Mental Illness, and messaged
me on Instagram. I truly look forward to seeing HATW improving mental wellness and providing a place to talk openly about mental health too. Big things to come!
1) So, for those who don’t know- what is Heads Above The Waves?
Heads Above The Waves
is a non-profit organisation that raises awareness of self-harm in young people, promoting creative and positive ways of dealing with the bad days.
We talk openly about self-harm and depression.
We sell merch with a message behind the designs to help get people talking.
We run workshops to give people the chance to find what works for them.
We create content to let people know that hope and help exist.
2) Where did the name of your company come from?
I think Heads Above The Waves is quite simply a summary of what the whole ethos is – life is all about figuring out the best way to keep your head up and stay afloat amidst whatever waves life might be throwing your way. I think the name might’ve also come from me mis-hearing the opening of ‘Mike Kennedy is a Bad Friend’ by The Wonder Years.
3) Who is Heads Above The Waves aimed at?
HATW is mainly aimed at young people aged 11 – 25 who are struggling to cope, but really, I believe that a positive message that hope and help are out there for you can apply to anyone. Personally, I think there’s enough negative stuff on social media – which pretty much everyone is on these days – so it can be a nice break to see something positive as you’re scrolling through your feed.
4) What inspired you to start HATW?
Heads Above The Waves essentially came about from me wanting to share my story and experience of how music helped pull me out of depression and self-harm. The goal really was to let other people know that it can, and does, get better. For me, it was specifically finding pop-punk music, and the positive message in a lot of the lyrics, as well as actually playing the drums.
But Heads Above The Waves is all about finding what works for you and accepting that one size doesn’t fit all. Not everyone plays the drums; not everyone makes music. But everyone’s got something that they do that helps keep them positive, regardless of whether they’re struggling with self-harm or some other battle. The more people I spoke to about it, the more I found that different people with different experiences, cope in different ways, so I wanted to build a collection of these experiences as well as positive things that I’ve drawn inspiration from to share with people, so that anyone can be inspired.
“Heads Above The Waves is all about finding what works for you and accepting that one size doesn’t fit all.”
5) Tell me a little bit more about why you chose to raise awareness in mental health.
From my personal experience, I found that a lot of stuff out there talking about mental health was either quite cold and clinical or a bit childish and condescending – I wanted to make something that could speak to young people on their level. I’ve got this silly, and grammatically awful saying that I keep coming back to: everyone is people.
We’re all human beings, trying to figure out how to live life and cope when the odds get stacked against us – however big or small that may be. Even if you’ve never experienced a full blown issue with your mental wellbeing, you still know how much it sucks to feel sad. My main aim is to help everyone find what works for them to pick themselves up when they fall down, as well as trying to encourage an atmosphere of people helping other people out.
6) Do you have any tips on keeping mentally healthy?
It’s obviously going to be different for everyone, but I’ve got a couple of things that I do to try and keep myself on top of things.
I write lists – lists of stuff I need to get done (seriously, it’s so satisfying to cross stuff off a to-do list) – lists of things that are going wrong and what I can do about them – lists of just generally what’s going on with my life (my office is covered in post-it notes). It helps me keep visual track of what’s going on, and stops everything going too wild in my brain.
I also play drums – practising repetitive rhythms is actually really good for distracting me and focussing my brain. Plus if I’m getting worked up and angry, I thrash out on a drum set and it helps.. but probably not so good for relations with the neighbours.
And something that I struggle with but I’m trying to get better at is actually giving myself some ‘me time’. Even if that’s just an hour in the evening to play some PlayStation or have a bath. Sometimes you need to shut off from other things that are going on, and not worry about being around other people or being productive – and most importantly not feeling guilty for taking time to yourself.
That’s just a couple bits that work for me, but what’s most important is to keep on trying out different things until you find what works for you.
“My main aim is to help everyone find what works for them to pick themselves up when they fall down, as well as trying to encourage an atmosphere of people helping other people out”
7) What is your favourite aspect of running your own business?
D’you know what’s funny? I’ve got some friends who run their own businesses, and they’ve always been the types who have wanted to run their own businesses – but I haven’t. I think ‘entrepreneurship’ kinda fell on me. I always assumed I’d come out of uni and get a ‘real’ job and just live out a typical suburban life. Yet, here we are. So the best bit for me, is probably the fact that most days are a little bit different and new and unknown. It’s exciting. It’s also utterly terrifying. But I think that the best of you can come out when you’re outside of your comfort zone, so I keep on pushing myself and learning new things pretty much daily.
8) What are your plans for HATW in the future?
Really the plan for HATW is to grow and spread and impact and hopefully make a difference to even more people. We’ve got our new site launching, we’re sharing a range of ways of coping through social media, we’re branching out and running workshops in even more schools. So the main hope for 2016 and beyond is that HATW can become a more practically useful resource to help people find their way of coping with the bad days.