1) Hey Jamie, we see you’re based in Leeds – what’s life like on the Northern England side and is that where you’re originally from?
I am from and live in Bradford but work from Leeds city centre. Things are as good as they can be during the difficult lockdown situation. Us Yorkshire(wo)men are made of strong stuff, so I am told!
2) Your Instagram bio indicates you wear many hats, namely that of Influencer, Recruiter, Entrepreneur and Mental Health Ambassador. How do you juggle all these disciplines and career pursuits?
As a high functioning borderline personality disorder sufferer, I feel that the best way to keep my mental health issues at bay is to stay busy and motivated!
9-5 Monday to Friday I work as a Recruiter for Venatu Recruitment Group in Leeds. It's a very "hands on" and "involved" role requiring multiple conversations with hiring managers which I quite like, as I get to help companies and candidates with problem-solving that is personalised to them. I really enjoy getting to know people's circumstances, whether it's their specific job role and function, or their personal and professional journey.
My Influencer status comes from a social media network through which I'm regularly approached by brands for advertising opportunities. I suppose you could see this is a side line venture I have, and hey, who doesn't love free goodies?
3) From our understanding, Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by difficulties regulating emotion and self-image. Tell us more about your experience living with such a disorder.
BPD is one of the most misunderstood within the mental health illness as both its symptoms and impacts can vary widely.
I was diagnosed with high functioning borderline personality disorder (BPD), depression and anxiety in 2018. However, I feel that this is something I have struggled with since being a teenager. It massively affected my personality and emotions where one minute I'd be on top of the world and ten minutes later I'd be having suicidal thoughts where I felt worthless for absolutely no reason. My family and friends would always comment asking “Which Jamie is joining us today?” and after a series of attempts to self-harm and commit suicide, I decided that I needed professional help. So with the help of my parents and a few close friends I spoke to my GP and was referred through to the mental health team where I got my diagnosis.
Acknowledging and owning that I had a problem is definitely the best thing I ever did. Yes, I may need to take medication daily to help with my illness, but it allows me to think and react more rationally in situations that I couldn't before. I also see a councillor regularly to discuss things my issues and learn new coping mechanisms for them.
4) How did you go from being a victim of BPD to a Mental Health Ambassador?
This happened almost accidentally. Being a mental health sufferer, I started sharing my personal experiences with friends and family to offer advice and support from my personal situation, which then lead to a number of them telling me I should share my story to a wider audience. I soon realised that even if I could make a difference to just one other person, then I'd have achieved something which you can't put a price tag on!
5) Social Media Influencers often get called out for portraying unrealistic lifestyles which some persons believe have become increasingly contributory to mental issues stemming from low self-esteem. Do you ever feel that your role as an Influencer competes or conflicts with your role as a Mental Health Ambassador?
I certainly agree with this view on social media, and I think as a society all we ever want to do is advertise the ‘good things’ whereas the bad gets hidden. However, if you look through my social media, you will see a real mixed bag of content. I'm not afraid share a post saying I'm having a bad day, be seen without make up or my hair undone, or an unflattering picture from a bad angle.
I really do think that there should be more normality and realism on social media platforms, but I also think this is the case for all mainstream advertising, marketing and branding too!
When it comes to being an ‘Influencer’ I only partner with brands and services I believe have the same visions and values that I do - that of realism and awareness!
I have also recently started my own brand and website (www.mentalhealthmattersgroup.com) which is still under construction, but through it I aim to provide services and information at the click of a button for mental health sufferers.
6) During the COVID-19 outbreak, which had a notable impact on the UK and even saw the British PM battle the virus, there’s been increased reports in pandemic-related mental health issues. What advice do you have for persons suffering mentally due to concerns over their physical safety, financial security and social isolation at this time?
COVID-19 has certainly had a massive impact on mental health globally, and I believe the same principles should come into play, that is, don’t suffer in silence - speak out. While mental health issues do not pick when they want to affect people, unfortunate circumstances do tend to trigger them.
Isolation, physical safety, and financial security are already some of the top issues that mental health sufferers deal with on a daily basis. So I think some positive outcomes from the pandemic would be less of a stigma around mental health issues and the need for more awareness, since people who usually aren't affected by such problems will now get first hand experience of what it's like to be a sufferer. The lockdown also seems to be generating some great exposure for mental health awareness at the moment, with more functions readily available for the general public. Anyone who feels they are being affected by any of the above mentioned issues I would urge to contact the Samaritans helpline 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (this is a 24/7 – 365 service throughout the UK.)
7) In addition to your many professional roles, you’re also a fiancée and mother. How do you juggle your multiple career functions and still make time for your family?
I make sure that I keep the two separate as much as I can. Monday – Friday 7am – 7pm I am a worker bee; I will do my recruiter role and any promotional work etc during these times. I also get my partner and son involved in as much of my work as I can, whether this be promotional pictures and case studies, or when I am working from home letting my son watch and listen to what I do. 7pm is bath and bed time for my little boy Arthur so I always make sure that this is a routine is constant to provide us both with that stability and switch off! Weekends are also strictly family time, during which time we make plans for travel and other leisure activities. One of the most important parts of being a family is making positive memories together, and we have an aim to visit as many places in the UK together once lockdown is over!
8) You’re openly gay and while England and the wider UK might be more progressive than most as developed nations, there are still a lot of persons who actively or passively oppose same-sex relationships and parental partnerships. How do you handle any negative stigma or discrimination that comes your way?
I just say I wish their parents would have raised them with an open mind, like we are raising our son. Sexuality should not define a person, the same way race and gender shouldn't either. Love is love at the end of the day and if our child is being raised in a loving, caring household then that's all that matters!
9) What does progress mean to you?
Progress to me is seeing a positive outcome to something I set my mind to, whether that be a personal or professional goal. I am a keen believer in setting measurable targets for myself and achieving them.
10) What’s next for Jamie in 2020 and beyond?
I have lots of ideas up my sleeve for my Mental Health Matters Group, which include a clothing line, awareness groups and charity days, and I can't wait to see all of these become a reality.