Rachel Williams: Somebody must go first

Mental Health

TEDxNHS Unlocked speaker and accidental influencer Rachel Williams joins Happiful’s podcast to talk about being enough, mental health conversations within the Black community and how TikTok has brought her a huge amount of joy

Rachel Williams has recently shared her experiences of mental health during a talk as part of TEDxNHS Unlocked and she’s ready to continue the conversation, in the hope that by having gone first, she can encourage other women in the Black community to do the same.

Introducing herself, Rachel shares that she is a mum, works in the NHS and she has mental health issues which include high functioning anxiety and depression. “But, I’m all those things and so much more,” she continues. “Everyday I’m able to learn more about myself now that I’ve looked at all the different things that make me, me.”

“The more I accept all those layers and levels of Rachel, the better life has been. Now, I’m just going around trying to encourage people to accept all the parts of themselves and believe that each part is fabulous,” she shares.

Being Enough

Rachel explains that working on herself and her mental health has resulted in understanding that she is enough. “I had to go on a journey,” she shares. “And now I know that whatever I have to give – that’s enough. If I only have 3% that day, that’s OK and pushing myself beyond that isn’t healthy. You’re still getting my best if I’m giving you that 3%. That’s my all.”

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Strong enough to be vulnerable

“For me,” Rachel begins, elaborating on her third I am. “And within the Black community, being vulnerable is being normal. We tend to have this thing, that we can’t be ‘normal’. As a Black person, as Black women, we spend a lot of our life navigating microagressions that are just out there, in daily life.

Within the Black community, it’s a brave, strong step to be vulnerable enough to show what ‘normal’ really looks like

“When we look at ‘normal’ we feel that we need to be about 10% more than that to be accepted. So, the idea of appearing to be lesser than normal (now I’ve got mental health issues), it means I’m not even at the baseline of normal because I’m not OK,” Rachel continues. “I can’t be that person, because I’m supposed to be normal plus some, then that will be acceptable.

“So actually, within the Black community, it’s a brave, strong step to be vulnerable enough to show what ‘normal’ really looks like, because we’ve got a false idea of what that is. My story is our normal. It’s OK not to be OK, and as a community there aren’t enough of us that understand that yet. But as I say, somebody has to go first.”

The joy of TikTok

“I love TikTok, it has been my playground!” Rachel shares, explaining that it has been a great place for her to interact with other people, especially during the pandemic.

“I started because I like to be creative, dance and express myself,” Rachel adds. “I use the platform to just put out things that are in my head and just have fun with it.”

Rachel shares how she feels completely able to be herself on the platform. “On TikTok, it’s just me being me. It’s so hard trying to fit into a box that you weren’t meant to fit into, so create your own box and live there! It’s nice!”

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🔴##TedTalk ##MentalHealth issues AND ##BlackGirlMagic ##Rise ☀️##MayaAngelou ##SelfLove ##GrowthMindCheck ##BlackTikTok ##BlackTikTokCommunity ##BlackTwitter x

♬ TedTalk .Somebody Must Go First. Rachel – Your Number 1 Fan ❤️

Listen to Rachel’s episode of I am. I have.

Follow Rachel on TikTok.


To find the right therapist for your needs, visit Counselling Directory.

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