with Guest Sophia May
On this week’s Wedotalk, David is joined by Sophia May, mental health nurse, singer/songwriter and Founder, Director & Co-CEO of Mendable. Sophia gives an overview of Mendable and describes it as a movement, rather than an app or a tool, that provides a safe place for those with mental health challenges to support each other.
Sophia was born in London, but her family moved to rural Somerset when she was a young child. After her parents separated, Sophia bonded with a good friend who was also dealing with the separation of her parents, and so began Sophia’s discovery that she found great satisfaction in helping other people, which led to a career in nursing, and today Sophia works professionally as a mental health nurse.
When her daughter was quite young, Sophia’s music career took off quickly. Although she had some early successes, she did not feel the satisfaction and fulfilment that most people associate with success in the music business. She found more pleasure from writing, creating and performing for others, and enjoyed connecting people in her industry.
By creating Mendable and the Clubhouse room that Sophia hosts, she has introduced a platform for men to come forward and share their challenges and support each other. Having witnessed men’s abusive behaviour, Sophia attributes that in part to the lack of emotional support, from which men have typically not been able to benefit.
Sophia’s Contact Information:
A New Movement for Mental Health
A new movement for mental health | Wedotalk with David
David: Hello and thank you for joining us. You’re listening to a Wedotalk with David Jaques.
Hi welcome back to this week’s Wedotalk and I have another amazing guest joining me today from the fine city of Bristol in England I have Sophia May, so Sophia very good afternoon to you thanks for joining us and welcome to Wedo.
Sophia: Hi David, thank you so much for inviting me.
David: So, Sophia is a very interesting person, a very in-depth person, and one of the questions I have is how do you find time to fit everything into your day because Sophia’s professional career is as a mental health nurse, she’s also a mother, an entrepreneur, a singer-songwriter and somebody who I look at is a pioneer in the world of mental health advocacy because she is the founder and also Co-CEO of an organization called “Mendable”. And anybody that follows this channel will remember that a few weeks ago I interviewed Patrick Hill and Patrick is actually that Co-CEO with Sophia, so he talked a little bit to us about Mendable, but as a refresher or in case anybody didn’t see that Sophia would you just give us a brief overview of what is Mendable. You’re the founder, it was your idea, what is it? How did the idea come about? And what is it that you’re hoping to do with Mendable?
Sophia: I would say it’s a movement. We have the mendable app, we have the clubhouse, we have the forum, you know I would say it’s a kind of movement as an umbrella, it’s a space for anyone, but in particular men to be able to get support, have that peer support, feel open and free to talk about how they’re feeling, to be able to kind of learn how to respond to other men. It’s a beautiful space where men can actually just be open and be themselves and not be judged for it and just be loved for it really, I would say. So, yeah, it’s a mental wellness tool whether it’s the forum, whether it’s the clubhouse, whether it’s the app it’s a tool.
David: Yeah, the way that I actually stumbled upon it by accident was through clubhouse which is still a relatively new platform. It’s gained a huge amount of traction, but I was introduced to clubhouse less than six months ago by a friend actually who I interviewed on one of these talks who said you really need to be on clubhouse and so she sent me an invitation and I joined, and I was looking through a few talks on different things. I was listening to one on cryptocurrency, I was listening to one on social media, and then one day I came across just on a Monday right around lunchtime my time. This clubhouse room testimony to men’s mental health and that’s something that’s always been very dear to my heart because I’ve always felt that adult men are probably the least likely to go out and seek help, ask for help when they need help and we, and I include myself in that demographic are somewhat reluctant to do that. And I tuned into this room, and I was just amazed by the openness, the compassion, the love, the feeling of safety, of people sharing their stories and that’s really what it was for me was about sharing stories. And as I always tell people I’m not a doctor, so I’m not qualified to treat people or diagnose people from a medical perspective, but I’m qualified to tell my story and there’s so many people out there and the more stories that get told the more the stigma is taken away, the more that we are used to hearing stories and the better the work it is that’s doing, and I would imagine that Mendable really plays into all of that. Is that right Sophia?
Sophia: Well, the thing that I love about Mendable is the fact that we have people from everywhere, we have men, I mean we do have women that attend the group, and they find so much value from that space you know the same way that I do, but the men that come into the room they come from all over the world. We have people from India, Australia, you know the UK, America and it’s just a mix of people, a mix of different ethnic backgrounds as well which is really important and everyone’s coming together whether they’ve got views or opinions on other people, they learn in that space how to communicate with everyone and how to be a bit more open to the idea of different people and that’s the beauty of it. And it’s not about just coming in when you’re having a difficult time, we have people come in and we say you know share the good, bad and ugly that’s what we want. We want people to be open, to share, and be themselves and not be judged for it. So, I think that’s one of the standout things when it comes to Mendable is the fact that we just we don’t judge anyone. Come here and be yourself and you’re going to be loved regardless. You know, we have men in there that say I’ve never told another man that I love them. Being in that space it’s exactly how I feel and that’s exactly what I say you know it’s beautiful really beautiful.
David: Yeah, and one of the great things that is just so endearing about it is when somebody shares their story, they’re having a going through something challenging time in life for dark time having a bad day whatever the amount of people that will just then respond and say you know I’m with you, I’m here for you, ping me on the back channel, contact me directly and I know that there’s friendships have true friendships have formed with people who have got together personally as a result of this, so I feel like this is just the beginning.
Sophia: Well, look I mean the club, the mental health awareness club has got over 10 000 followers now. I think when you did your interview with Patrick there was like a bit less than that, but we’re over ten thousand now. We hit that marker and it’s just it’s an incredible space and a lot of people do keep continuing to come back that shows what it’s like you know. If you’re coming then it’s your birthday, people are coming in on their birthday because they know we’re going to sing terribly to them, but they know that we’re going to be there. It’s a space where people know every Monday and Thursday we will be there and we’ll be there for them and they’re going to have an opportunity to speak if they want to or just listen or be there for somebody else, so they can listen and support them. It’s about coming in and a lot of people resonate with other people, and they didn’t think they ever would and that’s the bit that I think it’s a beautiful space and the point is that this is nothing to do with me, you know. This is to do with all of you that come in there and bring the value that you bring. All I do is facilitate the space, so when people are saying sort of banging on about me, I’m just for me I I’m there yes of course I’m there, but I’m facilitating a space I’m not doing anything other than that. Even the answers that I would give to people you know the support that I would show. People say, you know, one of the original team will say something and I’ll just sort of sit there thinking that’s exactly what I would have said, you know. It’s great.
David: Sophia don’t diminish the value of what you do because yes, you’re the facilitator and it’s a wonderful thing that you do, but if it wasn’t for you the place wouldn’t even exist. So, that’s really the credit I want to give to you. So, to get into really the origin and how it all came about would you tell us a little bit about your background. We’d love to hear where you grew up, a little bit about your family, what led you into music, singing, songwriting and to your career as a mental health nurse. They seem very different but would love to hear a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are today.
Sophia: I was born in London, and I was raised down in street near Glastonbury because my dad had cancer and so we moved out of the city. I was about three or something then, so I grew up in the countryside I’m quite a country girl, but I mean I had a really good childhood, you know, I remember being quite happy. The thing that started to fall apart for me was the breakup of my parents and at that time it was it really wasn’t very common to have parents that separated. Looking back now I’m very aware that those parents that were together weren’t particularly happy, but you know parents stayed together back then. And I remember one of my friends a couple of years after it happened to me, because it was a very painful time for me, very painful for me and my sister, but I remember one of my friends’ parents breaking up a couple of years later and then sort of I guess when I look back now probably when I really realized the value of being able to resonate with somebody else and somebody else’s story and how they felt about something because I know that I got as much from her experience as she had from knowing that I had had the experience, you know. So, I guess when I look back it’s probably when it started to be able to be there for other people it’s just powerful you know it’s powerful it helps you to heal just being there for other people. With my music I had my daughter and all of a sudden, I had a number one in America, and I was suddenly traveling off to America sometimes twice a month you know it was very busy. It was exciting times but at the same time I remember around that period and even to this day really that I often get people saying to me wow this is amazing you know that you should be so happy and so you know you’ve made it and I’ve never really felt like I had like I just was never as over the moon as everybody else was for me. I think that was the thing I never felt that. But one of the things that I started to realize and funnily enough when I came to clubhouse it was an invitation from a friend of mine who said you know please come on come and do some music stuff and I was like okay I’ll do it. It took me a while to agree to it because I was just like “another social media platform, no”, but I did and I came on and I started doing some music rooms with people like pap and you know learning to meet people like Jody and stuff, it was all through the music which has been great, but I decided that actually I just wasn’t feeling fulfilled, I just wasn’t and the only time that I felt good about doing anything around music was when I was helping other people. So, if I was writing for somebody else or if I was creating for somebody else or if I was putting somebody just in contact with somebody else. That was the only time I was really feeling any sort of pleasure from it all. And I realized that actually my traveling around the world doing music was very much the important part and the fun part for me was connecting with people. Being around other people and learning their stories and getting to know them and knowing that their lives were completely the opposite to mine, but yet we still got on so well, you know, that sort of thing felt more meaningful for me. So, it was about connecting with people, that was that was the important part for me, that was the bit that gave me what I needed. And then when I came to clubhouse, and I realized actually you know I’d been through an abusive marriage, it had not been pleasant for me, I understood where my head was going which was to a really dark place at the time and then.
I mean I give credit to my kind of upbringing really and my foundation, but I dug deep and what I did was I worked that much harder, and I made sure I got my first-class degree and I made sure I finished uni through the difficult times and I made sure that I left that situation to not be in it anymore, but yeah for me I guess I stopped punishing other people or the men that were in my life and the experiences I had I kind of got to the point was like if they’d have had support and help, if they’d have had the support growing up, if they’d had an outlet to be able to talk about how they were feeling and things like that then maybe my experience wouldn’t have been what it was and I spent a lot of my relationships trying to help them see how maybe better to communicate or to talk about how they were feeling, and I was just thinking there was there was more that could be done really. And that’s when I kind of said well look let me use my profession, let me use my status in music, and let me let me do some good with it. I connect well with men I you know it’s not something that I’ve ever really had an issue with because I connect with people, you know, it’s about people, isn’t it?
David: It’s all about relationships, it’s all about building that network and building the connection with people and building the trust and I think as soon as you can just get somebody’s trust, get their respect, and maybe even get their admiration there’s so much that you can do and it really is all about connecting with people, so a couple of things, a couple of quick comments when you say that on the clubhouse channel we sing rather badly, you sing beautifully, I sing really badly.
Sophia: I take it as my opportunity to sing really badly, David. If you really listen, I am singing terribly, I’m trying to do the worst karaoke. It’s an opportunity for me, I want nothing to breathe.
David: And then the other thing is that on the clubhouse room in which I’m a regular and many other people are, one of the guys that is always there is a delightful man, his name is Amos, he’s actually your dad. He is seemingly always there and just an incredibly warm compassionate person, very caring and so to have somebody like that in your foundation it’s easy to see how you ended up being this very caring person that’s able to build relationships and build trust in people, so shout-out to Amos.
Sophia: Oh, that’s so nice, but do you know what the funny thing is? I’m watching my dad develop and grow in that space. One of the things that he’s really clear on is that he wishes that they had something like that back in Jamaica when he was younger. He wishes that he’d have had the opportunity to be able to speak or hear other people’s stories in the way that it’s been being done in the room. And my dad has not always been the most open to talking about feelings, funnily enough. And when I was working on mendable, so just a quick story about how he came to be the person that’s always there every time we open the room is that my family and friends were very much, you know “So if you you’re working all the time, we’re not getting a chance to speak to you or see you” and it’s quite difficult because as you know on clubhouse if you’re middle of talking and you get a phone call it’s very especially if you’re running a room it’s very like I find it rude to then answer the phone, so I’m having to call people back a lot more and they were asking questions and I said “Do you know what I don’t know how to explain what I’m doing other than please just let me download the app on your phone” which was just a nightmare. Might have to do with technology but let me just download it and come along and see what you think and from that first day he’s there even the times I can’t make it he’s there now, it’s just incredible. It’s really lovely and he’s got nothing but love for everybody in that room and that part I knew was going to be the case because my dad’s always been loving and open to people that’s like you say that’s the reason that I do not judge anyone is because of my parents. So, yeah, it’s lovely to have him there, you know he’s 85.
David: Yeah, and he’s going strong, and I never seen him in person but just how like I said this very kind compassionate voice is there for support with everyone. So, Sophia one of the things I think you pretty much already answered the question for me, but one of the things I was wondering is that why you chose to focus first on men’s mental health and I know that mendable is not going to be an exclusively tool for men it’s going to be for anybody, but I can see now as you tell your story that you found that making that connection with men was probably important because it’s something that hadn’t really done before is that a fair statement?
Sophia: Yeah, and also you know I’ve particularly on my dad’s side of the family a lot of men in my family, a lot of black men that do not talk about their feelings, that are for their own reasons will not express how they’re feeling. And I’ve seen the damage that it’s caused not just for them, but for other people around them you know and it saddens me that people that particularly men feel that they can’t talk about how they’re feeling because they’re going to be judged and I think what better than a woman to let them know you be free, you be yourself, and we’re going to love you regardless, you know, everybody makes mistakes, everybody’s had difficult times, it’s okay to talk about that.
David: And it helps build us as to who we are, and I always say that no matter what’s happened to you, problems with drug abuse, alcoholism, abusive relationships, incarceration, whatever it might be that anybody’s had. Let’s not judge them on what’s happened before it’s made them who they are today and let’s help them move forward and get whatever quality of life that they could really get and build on those experiences and even if we come from a dark place to recognize when we’re going back there and to do what we can, so that we don’t get back there again.
Sophia: It can start at any time, David, that’s the point. If there is no judgement start where you are with us and move forward, you know. We’ve had people come in that room and express how much the room has changed them just for them to have that moment to have a think around their kind of behaviors or their thoughts you know from just being in that space and just attending and listening, you know. It’s incredible the stuff with the app in the background with Patrick, David and Dan, you know, the core four team you know because I do want to touch on that because outside of the club there is so much work being done and I mean continuous work from the four of us to really kind of push for this app to be ready to release and I know Patrick’s touched on what the app is about, but I think the key thing for me is how our team bond together, what we stand for as a team you know you’ve been a bit you know part of the background stuff as well you kind of know it’s important to us to have people that have the same standpoint as us to be involved with us and that’s what we want and that’s what we’ve got there, incredible. The brothers are just incredible, I mean the story is a long story perhaps we’ll do it on another podcast. I mean it’d be great if one day you know you could be one of the first to interview the four of us together you know.
David: That would be amazing. I’d love to do that and from what I know this truly is it’s a little bit of a cliché, but this truly is people working for that sweat equity because you started the company you’ve had very little money to be able to do anything, but through the dedication of your time and Patrick’s time and the two brothers that have had a huge amount of input.
Sophia: Yes, it is the heart and soul of people that has made it get to the point where it is now and we’re so much further along than we could have imagined really.
David: Yeah, and you are truly a startup company and you’re an entrepreneur, so aside from the other things that you’ve done you have this very entrepreneurial business, so would you tell us a little bit about where mendable is at today, so the product is not actually launched yet. When do you think, it will go launched and will actually go live?
Sophia: For me because it’s important for us to look after ourselves as well because we’re all doing this outside of our kind of normal working lives as well. For me I don’t think it’s going to be until, I’m hoping for the beginning of next year, that’s my hopes. We were hoping for before the end of this year, but I think it’s looking more like around the beginning of next year because the thing is what we want to do is we want to make sure that we’re putting something out that’s really going to benefit people and rushing is not an option. It wouldn’t be an option if I was putting a song out, David you know what I mean, it wouldn’t be an option. I actually did record a song for the mendable app and everyone’s like “Why is it not out?” and I’m like no, when it’s ready absolutely, but this is the point, isn’t it? We want quality, it’s got to be quality because we really want to impact, we really want to make a difference, we’re going to make a difference, a 100 percent I know this, we already are. It’s going to be great.
David: Yeah, life changing. Yes, I think it’s going to be wonderful. There are so many tools out there to help people and I think this is going to be something which will be very unique and very revolutionary.
Sophia: It’s never been done before and we’re going to do it, all of us, and that includes you know you that includes everyone. I would love to sit and name everybody in that club, I just feel so much love for all of you that come and just do what you do and for me everybody’s part of this team, really.
David: Yeah, and so Sophia do you ever see a time, or I think you do see a time, so when would be a time that you’re working 100% on mendable and you’re not doing anything else?
Sophia: I would, I mean I definitely see it, I would love to do it sooner rather than later, but I definitely you know for me I know that nursing is my heart and I’m not going to quit doing that. I’m getting what I need and I’m doing what I need to for others in the mendable stuff, right now. For me it’s never been about financial gain either that’s not been my thing, you know, I’ve been doing this, started this in January, so it’s been nearly a year that I started this and I’ve only put out money you know not masses this is just to make sure that we can keep the website running all that sort of stuff, but that’s come from me because I feel passionately about this. It’s not been about the financial gain for me, at all. It’s been about really actually wanting to help, and I believe we do. So, I would love to be doing it full-time because I have so many things in my creative mind that I want to be done and you know with the brothers we’re talking about many different things to go within this app and beyond that. I won’t go into them, give away all their stuff now, but you know there’s a lot of plans in my head and in their heads and I would love to.
If we could get a nice way forward which we will then I would definitely do the full time, but I’d still do what I do anyway. It’s just me, I just apparently find time in a day. I’m currently doing my training to be a mindfulness teacher as well.
David: And then you still have to find time for your daughter and her home life, and you seem to do that.
Sophia: Oh yeah, but she’s a teenager now she doesn’t like to hang out with her mother anymore.
David: Yeah, I know how that goes. So, mendable is like I said it’s still relatively early stage. I think you’re looking for investors.
Sophia: I mean it’s going to take funds to really do everything that we want to do. That’s the next step for us really.
David: It’s amazing what you can do these days with very little if you have people with the abilities and the skills and the willingness to dedicate the time and put into that it really is amazing what you can build. So, congratulations on getting so far. So, if people want to check out the mendable website. What is the website? How can they best reach you and if anybody wanted to contact you about mendable what’s the best way to get in touch with you?
Sophia: Yeah, of course. So, you can go to www.mendable.app , so do come over to www.mendable.app and become a sign up ready for the beta stages and that would be great the more people we can get signed up. Show it to your friends, show it to your family, show it to anyone, come and have a look. We’ve got a little video on there with some of the guys have done some of their just talking around it at the beginning and we’ve got the forum, come to the clubhouse, all the information’s on there, everything’s on the website. If you want to contact me personally you can @sophiamaymusic, so that’s Instagram, Twitter, everything, but you can reach us anyway through the website, come and get involved the more the better. Ultimately, this is about us doing the action spreading the awareness and we’re not going to stop anyway, but the more people the better, really.
David: Great well Sophia this has been wonderful chatting to you here today and learning a little bit more. I’ve
spoken to you many times but I still felt I didn’t know a whole lot about your background, so it’s been great to learn that and for you to introduce yourself and for us to learn more about the wonderful things that are coming up on mendable. So, I really look forward to following this story over the next few days, weeks, months, and years and I think if you are typical of many startups the vision that you have now will probably end up being something quite different as it evolves because new things will happen, and it will take you to places that you haven’t even thought of today.
Sophia: Yeah, to be honest David if you knew the vision right at the beginning to where it is now already it’s changed a lot, but it’s all really exciting and you know you’re on this journey with us like I said we’re all in this together and if there’s one thing about me is that if I say I’m going to do something I do it that’s just how I’ve always been, so you know I won’t stop, I will continue to do the work I do.
David: I can tell that, and I wish you nothing but success with it and would love to be on the journey and be there with you and help out in any way that I can. And if anybody watching would like to get involved as well, please as Sophia says mendable.app is the website there’s a lot of information out there, so I’ll wrap up and I’ll say Sophia thank you so much for joining us today and telling your story.
Sophia: Thank you so much for having me again, David, it’s been really nice. I look forward to doing some more, get one with the whole team.
David: Yeah, I’d love to do that, let’s do that and have a multiple person participating podcast. That would be great.
Sophia: So, let’s do it.
David: Okay, so thanks everyone for watching. If you enjoyed this video please leave your comments below, subscribe to our channel and until next time be well, be happy, and please follow mendable.