Mental health dialogue tends to happen in schools, therapy rooms, or scaremongering headlines that focus more on the problem than solution.
Yet one man is bringing the conversation into the mainstream to invite everyone along by using fashion to raise awareness.
Meet Jack Hunt, a wellbeing warrior who kickstarted his own brand Utopia Hats selling caps and beanies as a platform to share his story and encourage others to start sharing theirs.
Using a strong message that is relatable to everyone, that it’s okay not to be okay, while also donating 10% of sales to mental health charity Mind, Jack is on a mission to create change.
Speaking to Uspire, Jack said he knows first-hand what it is like to endure the darkness of the mind and it was only on embarking on his spiritual journey that he began to heal.
Jack said: “About six years ago, I was in one of the darkest periods of my life. I spent the next few years working on myself, reading books such as The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and although the suffering continued, I slowly started to realise that I was in control of my own destiny.
“We all are. I believe we all have a moment in our lives where we turn our attention to our inner world; better known as self-realisation or self-discovery.
“After breaking through those dark days, I felt empowered to tell my story and let others know that things will get better. And so, Utopia Hats was born.”
Jack continued: “Now more than ever, the world is desperately in need of some healing. If anything, this pandemic has taught us how important connection is. We crave human interaction, I only hope that once this is all over, we realise the importance of being kind.”
The question is, will one year of lockdown do this or will we all just return to our old ways?
Jack believes change is possible, although it all starts with the self and only by aligning our inner and outer worlds can we get where we need to be.
This said, Jack knows that when it comes to speaking about emotions – in particular, boys and men – we still have a long way to go.
Jack said: “I remember when I was younger, it was like I had tunnel vision. All I cared about was myself, going out with my friends at the weekend and getting drunk.
“As a group of young lads, we wouldn’t even ask each other how we were doing. Yes, there was your usual, ‘Aright, mate?’ but that was about as far as it went.
“As I got older and dived into the spiritual world, I realised that life wasn’t just about me. I started to open up more with friends and family. I can’t tell you how important this is.”
He continued: “I think part of the problem is that most people aren’t in touch with who they really are. They think they are their thoughts. They become so attached to their own thinking, they don’t even realise that they’re in a constant cycle of thought.
“This is where self-discovery comes in. The realisation you are not your thoughts is one of the most profound discoveries I have made. Once you realise this, your thoughts have no power over you.”
Jack hopes that Utopia Hats can be a voice to people, to remind them that they don’t have to keep a strong outer shell when really they’re crumbling inside, and that we can move towards a society where it becomes cool to ask your friends how they are doing.
He also strives to remind people that no two days will ever be the same, and sometimes it is about managing expectations as it’s not possible to be happy all the time.
Jack explained: “A lot of us, me included, put pressure on ourselves. We’re chasing a feeling, chasing something that isn’t attainable. We must remind ourselves that it is okay to not feel okay. Whatever you may feel on any given day, know that this feeling will pass.”
As well as running his company, Jack has a dog-walking service which he credits with boosting his wellbeing due to the long hours in nature where he can reflect and listen to podcasts or audiobooks to gain wisdom – including his favourite spiritual teacher, Mooji.
Jack also says meditation is a powerful way to still the mind and de-stress, although it can be scary territory for those who have never tried it before.
He said: “Unfortunately, a lot of us are unwilling to give up our social time to work on ourselves, but I cannot tell you how important this is. If you’re feeling depressed, but you’re doing nothing to help yourself, how can you expect anything to change? Only you can make that change!
“Give yourself the time, you owe it to yourself. A good starting point is to take five minutes in the morning, before you get up or look at your phone. Just lie there and focus on your breathing, you will notice that your mind will start to quieten. Don’t resist any thoughts, just allow them to come and go. Giving yourself this time in the morning will have such an impact on the rest of your day.”
As a dad, Jack knows all too well the importance of leading by example, as he says children are just like sponges and absorb everything around them that they see.
Taking inspiration from one of his favourite quotes by writer Anne Lamott, notably, ‘The most profound thing we can offer our children is our own healing’, Jack believes that by working on ourselves and mastering our emotions, we give kids the opportunity to flourish.
He said: “We are who we hang around with, especially in our younger years, we mimic and copy those around us, whether that is our parents or our friends. This is why, as a parent, it is so important to work on yourself. It’s the greatest gift you can give your child.”
In addition to his own teachings, Jack would like to see meditation taught in schools to help young people learn life skills and understand how to refrain from becoming reactive.
He concluded: “If we can teach children the basics of meditation, this could have a huge impact on their wellbeing in the future.
“Ultimately, I believe we need to stop trying to create our perfect world and focus more on creating our perfect inner world.”
Couldn’t have said it better ourselves!
To join the mental health conversation, click here: Utopia Hats.