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Speaking Up

More and more we find ourselves with opportunities to talk to others about mental health and mental ill health and often this involves sharing stories of our and others' lived experiences.


In order to best protect ourselves and those in the audience we ask that you adhere to a common charter for your talks.

If you are commissioning someone to speak on this subject please check that your speaker is aware of these points and where/if they or you expect to deviate from these guidelines then you understand the reasons why, the potential impact, and how any risk to people's safety will be mitigated.

Also check out the Speakers Collective.

​Speakers' Charter

  • Speak to the safety aspects of yourself and the attendees at the open and close of your session.

  • Be mindful of the topic and the potential for triggering and secondary trauma; therefore only give relevant information avoiding ego, exaggeration and sensationalisation.

  • Focus on recovery and hope.

  • Ensure there is on site support for attendees post speaking.

  • Ensure you have support post speaking. Regular supervision/therapy is strongly encouraged.

  • Understand the purpose of the event and the needs of the hosting organisation and attendees.

  • Ensure content is appropriate to the audience demographic.

  • Ensure evidence based guidance is used to support any recovery model examples.

  • Ensure attendees are signposted to post event support within the organisation/venue and externally.

  • Be mindful of language used in that it is appropriate, respectful and takes account of shifting attitudes towards MH terminology.

  • Be aware that the more you tell your story the more comfortable you may become with it and there may be an urge to keep adding depth and further details. Remember this session is in service of the audience and not a therapeutic session for you. Ensure you have worked through any new aspects with your supervisor/therapist before speaking to it in a session.


Plus adhere to the The Mental Health Media Charter (


​You will do your best NOT to:

  1. Use the phrase ‘commit suicide’ or ‘successful suicide’.

  2. Show ‘before’ images in eating disorder stories or pictures which could be triggering to people who self-harm.

  3. Use the term ‘anorexics’, ‘bulimics’, ‘depressives’ or ‘schizophrenics’….

  4. Give too much detail on suicide/self-harm or eating disorder methodology.

  5. Use generic terms like ‘mental health issues’ when describing terrorists and other violent criminals

  6. Understand the difference between mental health and mental ill health.

  7. Include links to good quality sources of support if content might trigger need for help in a reader/viewer.

Approaching Mental Health Public Speaking

Prime Directive:



Here are a series of additional considerations when thinking about public speaking about mental health.

Grip Self:

(Am I ok?)


Do you have answers to these questions?

  • Why am I doing this?

  • Am I ok?

  • What are my known triggers?

  • What if I get triggered by a question or the situation, and how do I manage my mental health/wellbeing before, during and after?

  • What do I really need to disclose and why?

  • How will I prepare myself before stepping out?

  • How will I review my session?

  • How will I celebrate afterwards?


Grip Others:

(Are they ok?)


NB: the audience will comprise those who will be inspired, those who will be triggered by something said (you cannot know what this might be), and those who are there unfortunately to watch you as an object of schadenfreude.

  • Who is the event sponsor and what are their needs, expectations?

  • Who is in the audience?

  • What is their level of understanding and what do they expect/need from this session?

  • What briefing have they had about the session?

  • Safety for all before, during and after?

  • Charters: Association of Mental Health Advocates & Speakers Collective



Grip Task:

(What needs to be done and how to do it?)



  • What is the message I want people to leave with?

  • How does my session relate to other sessions in the event, if relevant?

  • Story telling: beginning, middle and end?

  • Story telling: character based?

  • Story telling: what do I want people to feel?

  • If I use data / statistics I need to have references?



  • Format; presentation, workshop, other?

  • If using slides images vs words – images are better than words

  • Content vs Q&A – is there time for Q&A and if so, what will be my timing split

  • Audi-visual and multimedia? Integrated or external audio-speakers

  • Own/venue laptop? Email/memory stick, software/security limitations

  • Handouts? 

  • What space is there and how is it set out: standing only, cabaret, auditorium, boardroom, classroom?

  • Number of people?

  • Timing of the event and where am I in the running order?

  • Can I watch others or just arrive/leave for my session?

  • Payment; if I am being paid how will this work?

  • What is the access to the venue?

  • Who is my contact, who is the event sponsor, and do I have their details?

  • Will it be recorded/photographed? Will I have access to this and be able to use it?

  • Is there a non-disclosure agreement vs can I post the event on social media? If so, what can I say/does it need to be approved and by whom?

  • Will there be a follow up and what are the expectations around any next steps?

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