Monikah Lee presents: Boxpark Talks for Mental Health Awareness Week.


Monikah Lee presents:

Boxpark Talks for Mental Health Awareness Week.



During the run up to Monikah Lee’s Boxpark Talk it was evident that this show was going to be a special one.

While raising awareness of the event and encouraging people to be more open about mental health, Monikah Lee shared;

“As we enter a new week, a very special week – Mental Health Awareness Week I am so happy and excited to bring to you @boxpark – Talks With Monikah Lee.
This show I’ve decided to tackle myths, unhidden stories, discuss biological, environmental impacts of Mental Health with the help of my amazing panelist @natashakbenjamin @infecta  @shanley_lou .Being a black woman I think it’s paramount to discuss the hike in young black men suicide and how as a society we need to discuss and understand underlying problems to do with mental health.
I am just so happy to bring to you all a new dynamic when it comes to discussing problems that we cannot turn a blind eye to.
Remember my show isn’t about listening to us but as a community we educating and uplifting each other in a safe space.”


Mental Health is so important to me and as I had been having a bit of an up and down period in my life… AGAIN. YES. I knew that just by turning up and listening would actually really help bring me into a better place and just help jump start me back into gear.

I got there a little late (Apologies Monikah and Nina!) but just in time for some real hard hitting discussions on 2 topics that are especially relevant right now and are continuously prevalent in society.

Children & Mental Health

Body Image & Dysmorphia

So Monikah had lined up an extremely interesting panel that were brave enough to tell their stories and how they had managed to create better outcomes for their lives and how they maintain their mental health.

Natasha – Founder @freeyourmindcic

Infecta – Influential speaker & musician

Shanley Lewis – Self Care Coach Founder of Good to Me @goodtomeuk

We all tend to take notice of stats and where we are right now in 2019 is that 1 in 3 children will have an issue with mental illness directly linked with the experience of seeing domestic violence as a child, and it is important to know that this could be a trigger to early onset of mental health.

Natasha Benjamin had a tough time growing up and experienced domestic violence in her home amongst other worries, she told us about her journey and the amount of time it took to heal and understand what she shouldn’t be carrying around with her mentally.  She realised that the childhood trauma she had been carrying around started to show itself when moving from Birmingham to London, starting an exciting new job but she had also taken on living an unhealthy lifestyle. In short, Natasha broke down, hit rock bottom, moved back to her mums in Birmingham and didn’t really know herself, being very honest with herself and the audience she kept asking herself ‘How the hell did I get here from having all these dreams and living in London?’ Going back to square 1 she really started to look at her childhood knowing that she wasn’t a bad person but had just made some mistakes. So going back to square 1, back at mums, jobless and feeling awful about herself helped her to make sense of the trauma she had experienced. Natasha was able to pick herself back up, heal certain things that had held her back and is extremely passionate about supporting children through mental illness and now runs a service called FREE YOUR MIND with their Mission being to support individuals that have experienced childhood domestic violence and mental illness as a result. 
free your mind
Monikah Lee focused a lot on children and mental health which was brilliant, she reminded us that children do not understand the complexities of adult life, and their experiences are harnessed and internalised and interpreted. As adults we tend to brush things off, children aren’t grown, they don’t understand… but it seems as though that is the easy and ignorant option looking at mental health through adult eyes now.
We need to talk to the children, not brush it off and make sure children know that the consequences of adult decisions are the adults fault not the child.
When it comes to domestic violence people just think about the physical.
For example;
‘If the perpertrator is no longer in your life, then therefore it means that theres nothing else, you should be ok now, you should be alright, why are you still complaining? There is no mental indication because of the simple fact that the perpertrator has left.
People don’t understand the current affects and the after affects of domestic violence.’
Natasha was able to identify that her traumatic childhood contributed to her behaviours in her teens and it was in her twenties where she realised what she had been through and was able to make changes.
From conversations and amazing talks like this one we can see that childhood trauma isn’t something that will show itself as soon as the experience has happened, it takes time to reveal itself and only once you, yourself can recognise these patterns, behaviours and illnesses will you be able to tackle the issues you face. With that in mind I think it is important to look at the children in our families, have they experienced anything that we did when we were younger? If so then we are now at an advantage to safeguard the children we love and care about, you can spot these signs and indicators and offer different solutions and care than the coping mechanisms we’ve had to discover ourselves.
Natasha said something that really resonated with me
“When you have a traumatic childhood, I find what society does with children is very very strange because you go through all these things as a child and then you’re supposed to function healthily as an adult and that just doesn’t make sense. You use your adult life to make sense of your childhood, and if you have experienced a traumatic childhood that’s really unrealistic to expect that child to be a a healthy functioning adult. They’re working through things, making sense of what they have gone through, what they have learnt, they are trying to unlearn some things.”
 If a child has experienced childhood trauma, domestic violence and PTSD  there are  2 Significant Indicators that we can look out for and challenge in a soft yet empowering way.
“Angry” child – acting out and modelling their parents violent behaviour
“Introverted” child – Doesn’t speak at all, shy’s away from communication.

Research shows that a lot of children that are suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) do not really benefit from CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) because when a child is speaking about trauma they cannot diffrentiate between the then and now, it just feels like its the same time, so it doesn’t make sense to put a child through trauma over and over again using CBT when there are more effective ways to help a child maintain their mental health and recover.
PTSD is widely known as an illness that soldiers and army workers have suffered from when being brought back in to their community. Scientists have discovered that the brain structures of traumatised soldiers and children change in the same way.

The research reveals that coping mechanisms to deal with extreme stress and abuse actually cause physical changes to the brain.

Some of the more effective routes for recovery and good healthy coping mechanisms can be using Reiki healing, The Emotional Freedom technique and Thought Feel Therapy, which are holistic therapies that Natasha promotes and uses with Free Your Mind. Natasha favours these techniques because it helps to regulate the parasynthetic nervous system that supports us in relaxing and calming our selves down. These techniques help the children to regulate themselves, gives them tools so that they don’t have to depend on services and medicine as they grow up.

Neuroplasticity is also a healthy way to help a child recover from trauma as Children’s brains are able to reorganise themselves so that for instance if a young child suffers a brain injury to a part of the brain responsible for language, another part of the brain will take over that function. The same does not occur in adulthood, and depending on which part of the brain is damaged, the adult may lose all or some language functions, while the child’s will be relatively spared. It has the same effect when replacing a negative memory with a positive memory to change the experience of thoughts and feelings a child will have directly from that memory.

We took a break, got a drink and listened to some music, Sir DJ Corey was spinning some real bangers which kept up the good vibe.

After the break Monikah and the panelists shifted the conversation over to body image and dysmorphia, while introducing the topic there were a few raised eyebrows when Monikah mentioned Snapchat Dysmorphia, I was an eyebrow raiser too as I had not heard of this before but it is an actual real issue that many are facing.

So what is Body Dysmorphia?


Shanley Lewis summarised it perfectly describing it as

‘Maybe a part or our whole body, we spend a lot of time excessively worrying about a particular part that we deem or perceive to be distorted.’


Monikah highlighted that this is outlook is present in most communities and races, she gave an example of the Lombroso Theory in relation to Black Women, going back to slavery times and people would say things like ‘you got big lips or big nose, big head‘ and because of those physicalities there were stereotyped links to being called a criminal there was discrimination, and this has now trickled down to the 21st century and now we feel like we need to enhance to be sexy, we have to have big bums and big breast, we have to be seen as desirable and it is now becoming a mental health issue.’

The majority of the audience agreed with this and I could relate to the anxieties of feeling we have to be a certain way to be desired.

Lombroso’s theory of anthropological criminology essentially stated that criminality was inherited, and that someone “born criminal” could be identified by physical (congenital) defects, which confirmed a criminal as savage or atavistic. These theories are largely rejected by the contemporary scientific community – Wikipedia.

Moving on to Snapchat Dysmorphia was quite interesting as we were told that young adults are now going to surgeons and beauty clinics showing photos of themselves with snapchat filters wanting to look like their snapchat self. Back in the day you had to be rich to afford surgery and the people that were going for cosmetic procedures would produce photographs of celebrities and this is no longer the case.

We all love a filter, little flower round the head, slimmer face and flawless skin – why would we not?

I thought I would make an example of myself by posting a lie and a truth above. Yeah I look so much more attractive with the snap filter, but at the same time I am learning to Love my natural face, my big greek nose and the wrinkle lines that show wisdom. Natural photo was captured by my amazing bestie photographer Mollie Hayes 🙂

There has been a significant rise in clients getting surgery done, under the age of 30 producing the snapchat versions of themselves as their ideal self. Is this too much or should we allow people to aspire to be who they want to be? I think it is a difficult one to comment on because some may have an aftermath of regret and some may be empowered and love themselves more… I guess it all comes down to how you love yourself.

This does have a detrimental affect on some of our mental health states as studies have shown that by presenting their snapchat self there have been links to unhealthy mental health, negative feelings, self doubt and loathing.

Why should we be made to feel ugly without a filter?

We shouldn’t.

There were quite a few people that shared their experiences with mental health and how they managed to help themselves and the changes that they saw but the general advice I got from all of those brave stories was that you have to be responsible for your Mental Health and your physical health as they go hand in hand. Being thankful for what you have and identifying and supporting others is a very nice humane thing to do. Maintaining a healthy diet, being free to express and the courage to keep going will help us to live a less anxious and worrying life. We were given the outlook that teachers and carers have and it seemed quite worrying that the huge amount of pressures they face in terms of safeguarding and whistleblowing can initially be helped by starting talking at home which some people have trouble doing but it plays a key role in the dynamics of the home and in the school setting.

I was a bit nervy but Monikah Lee asked if anyone else wanted to share so I put my hand up, got up and tried my best with public speaking LOOOOL my life honestly.

I just wanted to inform everyone that there is a tool on Instagram that recognises when you have been looking at negative posts or hashtags for example;

When I feel anxious and I am alone I tend to search #anxietymemes to try and make light of the issue, bit weird I know but it actually helps me to laugh at the anxiety and eventually calm it down. But I did this one day a while ago and Insta alerted me asking if I was ok and needed help as I had been searching a meme related to mental health. I was ok but I thought imagine it was someone else and they needed real help, what exactly could Instagram do for you?

It took me to a help forum and I was prompted with a few questions such as ‘would you like to call a family or friend for support?’ and ‘Would you like to be taken to a forum for online support?’

I didn’t go any further than this as I had already rang a friend to talk through how I was feeling but the online forum had different topic threads so if you are someone that finds peace in sharing online, that tool is available and I imagine very useful in times of illness, frustration and desperation.

Huge Thanks to Monikah Lee, the panelists and the audience for giving us all a safe space to feel comfortable talking about mental health <3





All panelists and services have been linked and highlighted for you to explore 🙂








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