Interview with TEDxBrighton Speaker Jake Tyler

Jake Tyler is undertaking the challenge of a lifetime.  He calls it Black Dog Walks and it means he’ll travel the length and breadth of Great Britain (3000 miles!) to raise awareness of mental health issues.  We managed to catch-up with Jake, mid-walk, ahead of him speaking at TEDxBrighton 2017. 



Hey Jake! Tell us a little bit about what you’ll be speaking about at TEDxBrighton this year?


I suppose Mental Health, if I were to sum it up. Specifically my ongoing relationship with depression and suicidal thoughts, and  my discoveries about what it is to be human since I decided to drop the ‘I’m always happy’ act and come clean about the internal struggle I face most days. You know, real belly laugh stuff (!). I’ll also touch on how I discovered movement and the great outdoors, how it helped me manage myself and, ultimately, gave my life a purpose.



Why do you think it’s important for people to hear about this?


People seem to be talking about mental health more and more at the moment, it almost feels like a movement to me. And with any movement, it’s important to preserve the focus and ensure the message stays strong and on course. I don’t suffer with a mental illness that keeps me on the peripheries of society, I’m just a person who struggles with the stuff I think most of us do; everybody has mental health, which means everyone has a duty to manage themselves. I’m hoping that by telling my story I can plant a seed and get people to think about how they can achieve that, especially if it’s something they haven’t really thought about before. Providing they don’t nod off or leave within the first 60 seconds. 



This year’s theme is ‘Wonderland, Society’s Search for Utopia’ – what does the word ‘utopia’ mean to you and your line of work? 


Utopia to me is contentment, not perfection. Being fully aware and accepting of all the facets of life, both externally and internally, by lowering the bar of expectation and learning to chalk-up every day as either important, significant or educational. Stop chasing the unicorn, find a balance and learn to see the value in the crap side of life. Nobody likes West Street do they, but I’m sure we all agree Brighton’s better off with a prat-paddock.



Looking at the speaker line-up, who else are you interested in hearing talk this year? 


I’m really looking forward to Sanderson Jones, he has a truly beautiful outlook on people and is one of life’s truly hysterical people – he just has funny bones, I start laughing before he’s even started talking sometimes. That’s why instead of meeting him beforehand I’ll be watching his talk from the back of the room. I don’t like putting people I respect through the torture and confusion of me cackling in their face when all they’ve done is ask me where the toilet is. 



Why do you think Brighton has proven to be such a welcoming and receptive audience for stories like yours? 


I moved to Brighton BECAUSE it’s welcoming and receptive. Being open minded and accepting of ideas is what makes this city strong.



Finally, what’s the one change you’d like to see in the lives of our audience this year, following your talk?


I’d like to hear that people have begun to trust their instincts more, and are starting to choose exploring the great outdoors and movement as ways of managing their stress levels and their overall mental health. I’d also like it if everyone went out the day after this event and bought a helium balloon, stuck a picture of Wolf from Gladiators on it and let them all fly away in unison. I like imagining the confusion of a whole town when signed pictures of Wolf suddenly start falling from the sky.