The Steeple Times asks mental health issues campaigner Rob Howell: “What’s on your mantelpiece?”
The Steeple Times shares “wit and wisdom”. What’s your guiding force?
My guiding force is to break down stigmas and to judge yourself before you judge others.
“Don’t get even, get medieval” is, in our humble opinion, a great motto. What’s yours?
Education stops discrimination.
Kerry Katona was considered unacceptable in 2007. Who or what is unacceptable in 2015?
The lack of funding within the NHS mental health sector. When a government plans on spending £46.6 billion on HS2 to cut commuter train times by a few minutes and ruining the countryside, it would do better to instead invest that money into mental health. One in four adults will go through a mental health episode in their life time, therapy waiting lists can last up to 6 months on the NHS even if sufferers are feeling suicidal and by that time it is sadly too late for many. In 2012 alone, just under 6,000 people in the U.K committed suicide, 77% of whom were male. All of these deaths could be preventable if we were to put the right structures in place. It is simply unacceptable for example that a paranoid schizophrenic might only see a psychiatrist once ever four months when any one suffering from mental health issues should really at least be having therapy, preferably psychotherapy once a week.
Tony Blair misses being Prime Minister. What do you miss most in your life?
My father: A fantastic father to his four sons, a fabulous loving husband to my mother and a brilliant journalist. He was a truly inspiring man.
What might you swap all your wealth for?
Most of the work I do is voluntary, so I have very little wealth. For me, wealth comes in the form of changing someone’s life for the better when they come to one of my charities and I wouldn’t swap that for anything in the world.
Donald Trump was once a case of: “If you owe the bank a thousand, they close you down; but if you owe the bank a billion, you own the bank”. What’s your view on the banking crisis?
Considering the country is now approximately £1.6 trillion in debt, I wouldn’t say many positive things about it. It seems banking errors led to our current crisis and yet we are still paying bankers more to get us out of this crisis. It’s like a dog chasing its own tail.
What phrase or word do you most loathe?
“Snap out of it” – A term I have often heard directed at people suffering from depression, anxiety or many other neurotic health problems. If you have ever properly gone through depression or anxiety and ended up within a mental health hospital, you will realise one cannot simply “snap out of it”.
In the UK, some people consider charity to “begin at home”. What’s your view and what causes do you personally support?
As I dedicate most of my time for charities I am a massive supporter of them. In reality, the government should be doing more to help those who need charity in the first place. Even from home you can make such a difference to someone’s life by donating to charity or even better still setting up your own campaign or volunteering your time to a worthy charitable cause. There is a song by the band Pinhead Gunpowder which states: “So they say making changes start with the little things you do, revolution begins at home but for most of us it ends there too”. These lyrics really inspired me to do something about what I truly believe in, improving funding and awareness of mental health within the UK.
The judge in Law Abiding Citizen states: “I can pretty much do whatever I want” before being blown up whilst answering her mobile phone. What’s your view on the appropriate use of such devices?
Smartphones have completely changed the world we live in. For all the negatives, the positives are fantastic for me as it means I can use social media to spread awareness of my campaign really quickly and get as many people interested and willing to help me spread my message.
If you could fill a carriage on The Orient Express, who would be your fellow passengers?
Anyone who managed to change the world for the better, and everyone in music who has inspired me to stand up for what I believe in and get my voice heard including the likes of Joe Strummer, Billie Joe Armstrong and Justin Sane.
If you were unfortunate enough to end up on death row, what would be your last meal and where would you eat it?
If I was to end up on death row I would like to say I would give my last meal to someone who really needs it. But in reality, I don’t think I could turn down a lovely platter of fruits de mer sitting under my father’s memorial tree in Cadogan Gardens on Sloane Street.
What time is it acceptable to consume the first drink of the day?
As someone who is teetotal I always encourage others to drink for me, no matter what time of day it is.
A Negroni, a martini or a cup of tea?
A lovely cup of tea.
Whose parties do you enjoy the most and why?
Parties at home with my closest friends: Non-pretentious, relaxing and just a warm sense of family and community.
Who is the most positive person you know?
There are too many to really mention just one, but I would say every one of my family and friends who supported and still is supporting me through my own mental health problems. But a special mention to Sam Griffiths who has backed my campaign right from the start and also David Rodgers and Adam Fine. Without them beside me, I don’t know where I would be. If forced to give praise to one individual in particular it would have to be my mother. I would like to thank her for all she has done for me and for putting up with me.
What’s your most guilty pleasure?
Cup noodles: Can’t get enough of them, a perfect quick, hot snack.
If a tattoo were to sum you up, what would it be of?
Would have to be my first tattoo. It says “PUNX” and represents everything about me: Punk rock, equality and treating everyone with respect no matter what background they are from.
If you were a car, what marque would you be?
Probably a vintage Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz.
Cilla Black presented Surprise, Surprise. Tell us the most surprising thing about you.
Despite being born and raised in Sloane Square, Chelsea, I love punk rock and I drum in a punk band. I have tattoos and piercings and hate snobbery, the class system and discrimination of any kind.
What’s currently sitting on your mantelpiece?
Family pictures and an empty bottle of champagne. It is a reminder of when I used to drink.
After being diagnosed with mental health issues and having witnessed what he believes to be the terrible state of the NHS mental health sector, Rob Howell decided to dedicate his life to improving care and support for those suffering with such conditions. He wishes to break the stigma mental health has attached to it and wishes to encourage people – most especially men – to talk about this. He encourages our readers to sign a petition he has started by clicking here.
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