By Sean Meyer
TED Talks have become popular for offering up expert speakers on issues such as education, business, science, technology and creativity, but Maggie Pajak envisioned using the formula in a different way.
Maggie is the founder of Crazy Talk, an initiative she started working on last December and which had its inaugural event back on March 15.
Held at Innovation Works in front of more than 50 people, Crazy Talk offered up an opportunity for a number of people to talk about not ideas, but rather emotions.
The goal, she explains, is to provide yet another look for breaking the stigma surrounding mental health.
“We see all of these people who are incredibly talented and who are doing things and we think because they are successful in our eyes they must never have seen adversity, must not understand what a mental health struggle is like,” Maggie said. “When we have individuals in our community speak up about those struggles in a way that help us see them as what they are, which is just another human being and not this person we have put up on a pedestal, we’re able to connect with them on a deeper level.”
As a result, Maggie hopes to see the creation of a community where there is “a sense of warmth between individuals, as opposed to distance,” which she said is what helps break the stigma associated with mental health.
The turnout for the first Crazy Talk, Maggie said, shows there is “a great amount of support” for what she is trying to do. There was also support for those brave enough to take part.
One person in particular, Maggie recalls, spoke up and offered not only her own story, but share the essence of what Crazy Talk was all about.
“The thing that was beautiful about her talk was that it was real. It wasn’t fully memorized, she wasn’t perfect,” Maggie said. “You could see it was still difficult for her to talk about this . . . but there was a tremendous amount of courage there that she exhibited just by having the conversation.”
Having that conversation at Innovation Works made a lot of sense, particularly given Maggie’s connection to it.
For the past two months, Maggie has grown her own experience within the space by volunteering as member of the DECA (Desk Exchange Community Animator) program. As such, she works at the front reception desk and interacts with various co-tenants on a regular basis.
Coming into the building, she was immediately taken with the sense of “warmth and community” the space creates.
“You have all these creative individuals housed in one area, people willing to share their struggles, their successes, share their knowledge with you, help you. That to me is incredible,” she said. “It’s a great way to build the community because we’re always helping each other. It might not seem like it’s mental health-related, to create a space where we are all building each other up is supporting each other in a way we’re all connected.”
Maggie works with the group Crazy About Mental Health, and while she expects a lot of conversations will take place with them around the inaugural Crazy Talk, she’s confident a second edition is “just a matter of time.”
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/CrazyAboutMH.