When’s the las time a Chartered Accountant presented at a mental health conference?
I just want to say its a real privilege to be here. My name is Rahul Seth. I am an accountant by training but now work in the mental health sector. The sector has embraced me in the 3 years I have been part of it and I really appreciate being able to share you my story on how community has helped me.
Let me start though with sharing my mental health story
Perth is the town I have grown up for the majority of my life, but this is not where I come from.
This is a picture of my hometown of St Gallen in Switzerland. When I think of Switzerland, I think of the principle neutrality and timing and try to implement this in my life.
I love to hang out with my friends
And am a passionate motorsport fan, being Australian Supercars
& Especially Formula 1
I like to exercise
And listen to music
Volunteering has been a huge part of my life
I’m a kid at heart
I’m always up for an engaging conversation
I dream of meeting influential people
And I hope one day to transform the world
In all serious there have been been some cold and frosty moments in my life
but through hard sweat and persistance, and there was a lot of sweat on this day!
I now live a brighter and happier life
I bet you’re wondering now, why did I choose Accounting as a career.
While Studying at Trinity College I found it as a natural skill and I topped my class in both year 11 and 12
I went to UWA to study a bachelor of Commerce. The error I made in my studies was that I focussed to much on getting the best grades and not being well balanced in my life. When I wasn’t studying, I was ensuring I had a great work ethic
Where I used to work at Coles as a checkout chick. I struggled very hard to get a job out of uni, despite a very high grade average. At the time I couldn’t figure why this was the case
I initially got no graduate job offers
It was day 1 of my career that I started to learn the importance of community and social connection. At my first day, there was a business coach by the name of Ron Gibson, who is well known in the community. On this day he talked about various ways to meet new people. I reflect back on this day as being the first indicator of the importance of community.
I started my professional career as an auditor and found it tough. I struggled to gel with my coworkers and deal with the stress
It eventually got to the point where I was given a formal warning and this was me accepting I had mental health issues.
Ultimately auditing was too much for me, and I had to resign. I managed to move into tax and was slowly rebuilding my life.
But unfortunately after 4 months I was made redundant due to not enough work. This set me on an 8 month period of unemployment that saw plenty of highs and lows.
When I did secure work, I went a bit manic and alerted a few people, and it resulted in me being hospitalised. It was here was when I was diagnosed with bipolar syndrome. I didn’t accept this at first as I thought it was the constant changes to my environment that caused my erratic mood.
A few months later after my diagnosis I was in a very low spot. I got to a point where I was reflecting on the fact that my first 3 years out of uni had been completely misreable. Instead of achieving lofty results, I had a pretty broken record and a negative diagnosis. I was reflecting on the negativing in my life that I always had, and that there was no escape from this.
From this low point, I stated to gradually build my life. I remember an OT in the hospital giving me a list of hobbies and encouraging me to pursue something for my wellbeing. I chose tennis as that was something I enjoyed in my teen years, and did tennis for over 6 years.
My next life hurdle was to get my CA qualification. For those not familiar with this, its full time study on top of full time work and quite a hard qualification to get, so it presented a barrier for me to better involve my life.
In 2013 I started to pursue volunteering, and I Volunteered with Befriend Inc and became the Finance Manager of TEDxPerth for over 5 years.
But it was photography in which I found a lifelong, rewarding hobby. Photography got me connected to both nature and people. I love taking images of everything ranging from
And Man Made icons
Through this process over 6 years I went from very little community involvement to more than I could handle. But despite all of this my mental health was still not quite there. I was getting towards the age of 29 and found my friends were getting engaged, married and having kids. I needed to do something to meet new people. In May 2016 I engaged the services of a new psychologist, where I talked the idea of creating a new community that would do more than simply talk about our issues. It would take affirmative action like playing a game of monopoly. After getting her approval, literally the next day I established the group on Meetup
This was the first “logo”. I had given little to no consideration of brand name or look. I just wanted to get the group off the ground.
The first meetup I held was to brainstorm ideas for the group, play a game of uno and to enjoy a coffee. This was the start of big things
Two weeks in, I pitched at a crowdfunding dinner and won, and used the money to
Purchase board games, where I started a monthly board games night which I still run to this date.
We eventually got a new logo, and continued to run fun activities ranging from things like
8 ball pool
Ten pin bowling
And doing fun things like visiting the cat cafe
The group took off far bigger than I ever expected, and now features over 2,500 members
We’ve run over 950 events for our community
And have had over 60 people volunteer with us
We rebranded On July 1 2019 to a simpler, more dynamic name and a creative look
And we continue to embody the bodies of acceptance community and fun.
This group has given so much back into my life, that I otherwise could not have expected. Its not only been fulfilling for me, but for the people who have been involved with it as well. I think creating and participating in communitiesa is probably the best thing you can do for your mental wellbeing. But why are community and social connection so important for wellbeing?
To explain the need for them, I like to use Maslows Hierachy of Needs, which is a well known motivational theory. The hierarchy goes like this:
1st you have your physiological needs, such as food, water, clothing and shelter
Next, you want to ensure you’re safe.
You then search for a sense of belonging
Before going to higher order needs where you start to achieve your life purpose
And then go on to achieve it.
For me, the majority of the mental health sector is concentrated here, and rightly so. Mental health is a complex problem and its a massive challenge to help people with both physiological and safety needs.
But in order to achieve higher order needs, which can be argues where mental health recovery happens, you need to the do the work here in a sense of belonging.
The Act-Belong-Commit campaign. I am a massive fan of the campaign and do a lot to promote their work in my activites. Its a privelge to have their involvement in the state
If I was to use a pop culture reference to describe the need for community, its this quote from Brene Brown.
Connection is why we are here, we’re hardwired to connect with others, it is what gives us purpose and meaning in our lives, and without it, there is suffering.
So now, you might be thinking what does it cost to run a community like Activate Mental Health, and the answer is not that much. If you want to start basic
You can establish a group on Facebook for no investment. I have seen some fantastic facebook mental health start.
If you want to be running events similar to AMH, I would recommend in getting a licence with Meetup, Which costs $90 USD every 6 months
I would also recommend getting someone to design you a logo. If you can’t afford the services of a local graphic designer, there is a brilliant website called Fiverr where you can make a logo as cheap as $5 USD. I would recommend going for a mid tier package, which costs around $40 USD.
Something I have come to learn with running your group is the importance of branding, and you can use some incredibly powerful packages to design a consistent look and feel. I use Adobe spark to produce my graphics
Now, as an Accountant I can’t go without showing the financial performance of Activate Mental Health. I have managed to achieve these results while still not being registered as a charity. Don’t think you need to be registered to have an impact
I should point out there are some incredible groups in the community to support you with your venture, and one I have used heavily for financial and strategic support is Connect Groups WA. No group can establish themselves without collaborating with like minded players
Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for listening to my presentation. I invite you to follow us on social media, or to send me an email for more information. I’m here to take any questions you have