Bouncing Back: How Greg Harman is Supporting Mental Health across East Yorkshire

“Although I have worked in mental health for a number of years, the knowledge, contacts, regime and ethos of Hull University contributed immensely to my own personal development, and the creation and sustainability of the charity. This has subsequently meant that dozens of people have improved quality of life.”

Greg Harman, Social and Behavioural Studies, 2011

2022 is our year of ‘bouncing back’. Whether that is rebounding from adversity, overcoming a difficult challenge, achieving something when we didn’t believe it was possible, or something related to our collective challenge, the pandemic, we want to hear your stories.

In this article Greg Harman talks to us about how as a mature student at Hull he picked up the skills and confidence he needed to fulfil his personal ambition and has founded a mental health charity supporting people across East Yorkshire.


I graduated in 2011 at the age of 57 with a first class BA (Hons) in Social and Behavioural Studies, after studying on a part time basis through ‘Lifelong Learning’.

Although I was in a senior management position at a mental health charity when I began my degree, I undertook my continuing learning path to fulfil my personal ambition to prove I could do it, as well as gain valuable knowledge and information, primarily in psychology.

I formed a mental health charity in 2015 called ‘Second Thoughts East Yorkshire’ www.secondthoughtseastyorkshire.com

The aim of the charity is promoting good mental health across East Yorkshire and surrounding areas. The charity came about because of the lack of support for people living in the largely rural area of the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Our main project is providing support through organising workshops. Small groups of 4-6 people are invited to come along to a set of 4 of these. We keep these small in numbers so that people have the time and opportunity to chat a little, rather than feeling overwhelmed.

The first workshop is confidence building, the second is assertiveness, the third anxiety management and the fourth valuing your own skills. They each run for about 3 hours a week over four weeks, one day per week.

Groups are not for everyone, so some one to one support is offered if people are not feeling ready to go to a group meeting, even a small one. This is mainly as preparation to join a small group workshop at a later date.

Our other project is ‘STEY on the Move’. We have a minibus and we offer to pick people up and take them to a woodworking unit in Hull, or to a gardening project also in Hull. We also respond to feedback, so we will also look at other activities to take people to.

2020/2021

From March 2020, because of covid with its subsequent isolation regulations (for most of us anyway) the workshops were not able to be delivered in person, so we had to rejig the charity’s service delivery.

Fundraising also became much more challenging, as our usual methods of music evenings, retail stands and public appearances stopped.

Shifting from in-person support required us to create online support films, covering areas such as mindfulness, controlling anger, managing anxiety, making decisions and many other subjects Films – Second Thoughts East Yorkshire

One to one support on a face to face basis also ceased, so telephone and skype were used instead.

Despite all of the challenges, we moved from strength to strength. We regard the newly developed strands of support as additional, rather than replacement, so adding extra dimensions to our work.

Maintaining positivity ourselves was a significant challenge too, as it is vital to maintain ones own emotional wellbeing in order to transmit that to others. The time from March 2020 to the present date have been the most challenging of my life to be sure.

To summarise, although I have worked in mental health for a number of years, the knowledge, contacts, regime and ethos of Hull University contributed immensely to my own personal development, and the creation and sustainability of the charity. This has subsequently meant that dozens of people have improved quality of life.

For that, I thank you, and salute you all at my alma mater.

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