#KnowYourCommunity is an ECBC campaign that hopes to raise awareness of groups/charities/organisations/people that help those living with a mental illness.
ECBC spoke to Jess, founder of TRIBE MCR, about her organisation and how it can help those living with a mental illness in and around Manchester.
My name is Jessicarr, I am 28 and I am based in Manchester. I am a NHS Doctor, with a background in Physiotherapy. I am also a Personal Trainer and the founder of the health and wellness brand TRIBE.MCR.
What is TRIBE MCR and why did you start the group?
TRIBE.MCR harnesses the power of movement and exercise to promote all aspects of health, including mental wellbeing and social connectivity. As you will read, this is important to me as a doctor, and for my own personal reasons.
TRIBE.MCR came about for a number of personal and professional reasons.
I have been very fortunate to grow up in an environment where activity is part of every day life. I remember leaving school, feeling excited about that evening’s activity, whether that was a dance class, or just playing outside with my brother. My mum encouraged us to try out new activities, not to be the best, or to win competitions but to have fun.
In 2008 I went to University to study Physiotherapy, and started to learn about the effects of movement and exercise on the body. I enjoyed learning about exercise prescription, gait analysis and postural assessment. In 2012, I decided to use this degree to apply to study Medicine. I have never looked back and thrive from the knowledge and skills I now have as a doctor. I have worked in surgery, paediatrics, A&E and in the future I would like to be a GP.
Whilst I enjoyed my medical school training, it was during this time that I began to experience pronounced anxiety symptoms. I was and continue to be surrounded by very intelligent and highly proficient people and the atmosphere often felt competitive and pressurised. I remember my first anxiety attack, sensing my heart racing and feeling completely out of control. I will be honest, I did not see my GP, in fact I hardly told anyone, because I felt the need to ‘just carry on’.
There is often a felt pressure amongst doctors, to be resilient, to remember that we are the ones helping others.
In an effort to feel better, I started to increase the amount of exercise I was doing. Unfortunately for me, this progressed to a situation where I was over-exercising and developed unhealthy thoughts about my body image, eating behaviours and activity levels. This could have continued but with a help from a very supportive family and friend network, I was able to prevent this from becoming any worse. I now have a healthy relationship with exercise and take part in activity because I enjoy it, and feel the all round benefits.
In the three years that I have worked as a doctor, I have seen the effects that movement and exercise can have on health. I am advocate for proactive, preventive medicine and have the joy of working with patients to help their mental health and to prevent the onset of conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. I am, however, under no illusion that becoming and staying active is easy. I meet people from all walks of life and I understand the challenges faced when engaging in exercise, be that personal, financial, social, or psychological.
In August 2018, I decided to take a step back from working full-time as a doctor. This was a bold move but I know now that it was the best decision I could have made. I qualified as a personal trainer and launched TRIBE.MCR. As a brand, we harness the power of movement and exercise to promote all aspects of health. Forget the ‘summer body’. Forget the ‘booty squats’. We aim to help people discover the joy for movement and exercise and feel good. That’s when you develop a healthy relationship with exercise and that’s when you see the real benefits.
TRIBE.MCR fosters a new way of thinking about exercise, based on a community of like-minded people who come together to move their bodies, and feel good. I hear a lot of people say they are afraid of the gym, or they are not fit enough to exercise. We encourage our members to support each other and celebrate diversity in health and fitness. Everyone has their own reason for becoming and staying more active and together we support people to do this.
This ethos naturally lends itself to our group training sessions where like minded people come together to move their bodies and benefit their health. It also applies, though, to our PT clients, who come to us to experience a new way of exercising and feel a connection to our ethos. Our community projects are also based on this ethos. We provide new opportunities for people to become active who may otherwise not be able to prioritise health in their life. Our clients also enjoy participating in these projects and helping others to become more active.
Mental health is key component of TRIBE.MCR. We openly chat about how we might be feeling before, during and after our group training sessions. I feel it is important to be open and honest about my own mental health symptoms and not to project a serene image of wellness, that you often see on social media. Our clients often tell us how much better they feel after our Personal or Group Training sessions.
We are also going to be running a series of health and lifestyle education events, the first of which will be entitled ‘Movement is Medicine’ and will have a large focus on neurological and mental health benefits of exercise.
As with all health services, there is a huge amount of pressure on those for mental health. I have worked with mental health services in a number of settings, including in general practice and in Accident & Emergency. There is an imbalance in the demand for services and the supply of it and this means that people often have to wait a long time to get the care they need. It is incredibly frustrating for patients and for healthcare professionals alike and is something I hope will improve in the future.
The conversation about mental health is certainly more open and I am pleased that more people come and see there GP. This is ironic, given the fact that when I felt at my worst, I was too frightened to see my GP. I try and share my own story to my patients, to show that we all suffer from mental health symptoms and it is OK to say you are not OK. There is a growing number of NHS and charitable organisations there to help. I often refer my patients to the charity Mind, which has really helpful resources for a number of mental health conditions. I also recommend a number of podcasts e.g. Happy Place by Fearne Cotton and Bryony Gordon’s Mad World.
You can join us at any of our Group Training sessions. We have a City Centre session every Wednesday at 6.30pm at Sadler’s Yard. This is an outdoor session, in a vibrant urban space and you can pre-book via Eventbrite. We also meet every Saturday at 10.30am in Marie Louise Gardens, West Didsbury. This is also an outdoor session, in a beautiful park. Again these sessions can be pre-booked via Eventbrite.
We have an event on 16th Jan 2019 – Movement is Medicine. This will be the first in a series of health and lifestyle education events. This will be an evening of discovery, movement and inspiration with myself, Darryl Edwards and Suzy Glaskie.
In 2019, we are collaborating with Manchester Cares – a community network of young professionals and older neighbours hanging out and helping one another in our rapidly changing city. This is a fantastic organisation and we will be working with them on monthly exercise sessions in communities across Manchester. Our clients will be coming along to take part in the activities and to spend time with our older neighbours. This is very important to me as I am acutely aware of the risks of frailty, isolation and mental health issues in older age. I learn so much from the elderly patients I meet and think it is important to appreciate the shared beliefs and values that we may have.
Whats next for TRIBE MCR?
In the future, I would like to use the platform of TRIBE.MCR to facilitate collaboration between the healthcare and fitness industry. I am an advocate for proactive healthcare and feel that investment is required to help people to live healthier and happier lives. Prevention really is better than the cure and I have an overwhelming drive to ensure that movement and exercise are at the forefront of services offered within the NHS.
You can contact TRIBE MCR via their website tribemcr.com.
All pictures have been provided by TRIBE MCR.
Want to get involved in our #GettingtoKnowYourCommunity campaign? We are running the project all year round and would like to tell your story. Get in touch with us via our website for further info.