What is Punk?
Punk is much more than a specific look or music style. Punk is in the first place an attitude. The term ‘punk attitude’ describes the positive attitude towards life that has been traditionally promoted within punk subcultures. Psychological research suggests that a punk attitude is mentally and socially a beneficial attitude.
I often summarise the punk attitude with an ABCDEFGH: Acceptance of differences, Be yourself, Creativity, Do it yourself (‘DIY’), Empowerment (giving individuals practical and psychological resources to improve their own life situation), Fighting narrow-mindedness (e.g. explicitly opposing racism, homophobia, transphobia and discrimination of individuals with mental health problems), Getting together as community, and Having fun.
What is Punk4MentalHealth?
Punk4MentalHealth is a British Charity. We organise cultural events to raise awareness for mental health problems and stimulate positive mental health. These events are about music, art, debates, movies, workshops, etc. This includes not only punk, but also goth, EBM, folk and many other so-called ‘alternative’ subculture. Punk4MentalHealth is organised by Patrick Griffin, Tara Rez and myself. Any profits goes to the events organised by Punk4MentalHealth to improve positive mental health, or to other charities, such as Mind in Camden who we are supporting with our event from 16 December 2017.
What are the formal objectives of Punk4MentalHealth?
- Raising awareness for mental health by organising subcultural activities;
- Creating safe spaces and stimulating public acceptance for members of subcultures by organising subcultural activities;
- Stimulating positive mental health in general and in subcultural groups in particular, via debates, lectures, workshops and other events about mental health.
- Promoting positive mental health values in subcultural groups, primarily, but not restricted to, a mentally healthy punk attitude.
With the term ‘subcultural’, we refer to any minority group in society with a specific music style, clothes, beliefs and/or lifestyle; Punk4MentalHealth primarily focuses at, but is not restricted to, punk and gothic subcultures.
With the term ‘subcultural activities’, we refer to publically accessible events such as concerts, art exhibitions, movie screening and lectures.
With the term ‘mental health problems’, we refer to any psychological and social problems that individuals may experience; this includes psychiatrically diagnosed problems but also psychosocial problems caused by the socio-economic and political life circumstances of individuals. Punk4MentalHealth focuses at mental health problems in general, and more specific at the mental health problems of individuals within subcultures such as punk and goth, and problems caused by socio-economic circumstances.
With the term ‘public acceptance’, we refer to the general attitude of the majority in the population towards specific sub-groups. This includes for instance discrimination and harassment of individuals who publically identify as member of a specific sub-culture.
With the term ‘safe space’, we refer to organising events which are publically accessible to a broad audience, and particularly to individuals who do not feel accepted in other cultural and subcultural events, such as individuals with specific subcultural clothes and looks or individuals with mental health problems. All events of Punk4MentalHealth will be based on the following core values: inclusive (everyone is welcome), non-hierarchical (nobody is treated worse or better than others), confidentiality (any personal information shared during small events will be treated confidentially), respect (all communication is respectful), expression (individuals are stimulated to express when they feel that their boundaries are crossed by others), acceptance (individuals are stimulated to accept the perspectives of others when others tell them that they feel that they have inappropriately crossed their boundaries), sensitive (all communication will be sensitive to the specific audience) and enjoyment (all participants are stimulated to enjoy themselves during the events) (acronym: INCREASE).
With the term ‘positive mental health’, we refer to a positive psychological approach to mental health. In contrast with traditional mental health approaches, we do not focus on psychiatric diagnoses or problems, but we focus on the strengths and resilience that individuals have, particularly in difficult life situations. This includes for instance addressing meaning in life, life satisfaction, mindfulness or psychological flow. In this respect, Punk4MentalHealth is indebted to the anti-psychiatry and social justice movements in psychotherapy and counselling, and the emergence of the fields of positive psychology and meaning-centered psychotherapy. The mental health approaches that are promoted by Punk4MentalHealth are supported by significant empirical evidence from academic research.
Tips & tricks for therapists & counsellors working with subcultures