12 February 2020

Students and staff at the College were treated to an amusing yet poignant talk from Wirral-based comedian, author and speaker Neil Hughes on the subject of mental health. And custard.

Neil performs talks as part of what he calls a ‘humorous mental health outreach’, speaking about his experiences of severe anxiety and ways to combat the symptoms, all with a comedian’s touch and a unique insight.

Neil’s talk, which has been watched by a quarter of a million people as a TED talk, was organised by Tutor and Designated Mental Health Lead, Jen Foden, as part of the College’s range of support in place to help young people’s mental health.

Neil Hughes with the College's Tutor and Designated Mental Health Lead Jen Foden

‘Walking on Custard’ is Neil’s angle on anxiety, drawing surprising but relatable links between suffering from mental health episodes and the chemistry of custard.

As he points out, the ‘non-Newtonian fluidity’ of custard means that when it’s struck, it becomes solid momentarily before returning to liquid form, meaning that a person could walk on a pool of custard, but only if they constantly continued moving – a potent analogy for the mind of someone suffering from anxiety.

Amusing throughout, Neil’s talk resonated with those watching, whether that was from personal experience or helping to understand the minds of others who may be afflicted.

Second year student Martha said: “It was really good. The analogies and comparisons made everything easy to understand. We use a lot of words like anxiety and depression every day without really understanding the real meaning of them to people suffering from the conditions. I feel like it really helped me to appreciate a lot of aspects of poor mental health but it was really funny too!”

Tutor and Designated Mental Health Lead, Jen Foden, said: “Neil’s talks are a brilliant way to get across extremely complex problems in an entertaining way. I think it really helps people to empathise with sufferers for one thing, but his deeply personal experiences of dealing with his mental health issues are relatable to a lot of people, and even may have helped some of us recognise a problem that we didn’t fully understand that we may be suffering from ourselves.

“His advice on solutions to help combat anxiety is excellent, and we’re extremely grateful that he was able to take the time to come and talk to us all.”

For more on Neil Hughes, click here to visit his website, walkingoncustard.com.

Posted by The BSFC Blogger on 12 February 2020

Category: College Life