Our focus: Mental Health

The theme of our first Innovate Suffolk event  at the Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre, 24-26 May 2019, is to

“Help create solutions to overcome mental health challenges.”

We are drawing on a framework and resources from the Suffolk Mind charity (suffolkmind.org.uk) and its programme Suffolk’s Needs Met. They highlight emotional needs and internal (or innate) resources. Material on this page is adapted from Suffolk Mind booklets, and is used by permission.

You may also want to consider completing your own Emotional Needs Audit which can help you to think about how well your needs are met – and which needs you could work on to improve emotional health and wellbeing.

Emotional Needs

Our emotional needs include:

Security means feeling safe in the place that we live, work or study. When we feel safe we think clearly and respond to events sensibly while coping with change, When we feel unsafe we can become very stressed and find it difficult to think clearly about meeting other needs.

To meet the need for Control we need to feel that we have some say over our lives and personal choices. A healthy way to meet the need for Control is to take personal responsibility for what we can influence, while accepting that there are some things we cannot control.

Attention is a form of nutrition — too much and too little is bad for us. As we grow, we learn how to share attention — to give and to receive it. By sharing positive attention, people, families and communities grow and become healthier.

Emotional Connection means having a relationship where we are accepted by another person in a way which lets us be ourselves.

Community and feeling that we are connected to both other people and the wider society, is vital for emotional health and wellbeing. We are social beings and need to belong to groups in which we are valued.

Respect is connected to the need for Community, because to be valued by others — friends, colleagues, peers and the wider world — helps us to understand our role within the community

We also need to have Privacy and enough space and time to reflect and learn from past experiences.

The need for Achievement is met by learning new skills and becoming competent in our work, hobbies and relationships. Learning new skills is the cure for both low and high self-esteem.

Having a sense of Meaning & Purpose allows us to cope with suffering and keep going when life becomes difficult and stressful. We meet the need for Meaning & Purpose by being stretched mentally and physically in one or more of three ways:

  • Learning new mental or physical skills such as studying a language, an academic subject, obtaining a profession, or practising a sport or a craft;
  • Helping others through commitment to raising a family, working in a team, running a business or volunteering
  • Having a sense that we are connected to something larger than ourselves, which we have a duty to serve. This might be met through commitment to a religious, political or social cause, but for some people it may take the form of a philosophical or spiritual quest for scientific or experiential truth.

One approach we recommend to participants is to choose one or more of these needs and develop ideas, projects and solutions during the intense, guided innovation weekend. We are particularly excited about the ways that information, communications and 3d-printing and fast prototyping technology (as well as paper, pens and sticky notes!) can be used positively to enhance society and empower individuals. Different ideas may be taken to different stages over the course of 48 hours, and different teams may choose very different approaches to developing and demonstrating ideas and projects. Help and guidance will be on hand at every step, and a number of experienced mentors will be available to help teams challenge their own assumptions, develop ideas into projects and progress towards impressing the judges at the event finale.

Disclaimer Using this framework for guidance cannot guarantee that ideas and projects will produce benefits to mental health, and the organisers and our advisors would like to ask that no claim should be made about benefits, and that appropriate academic or professional support and guidance should be sought at all times. Neither Innovate Suffolk nor Suffolk Mind can be held responsible for anything arising from the use of this framework and other resources, which are offered in good faith.

To find out more about free training from Suffolk Mind (subject to availability; terms and conditions may apply), please visit 


Internal (innate) resources

We each have internal resources – the tools and skills – which help us to meet our emotional needs.  Our internal resources include:  

      • Rapport  
      • Memory  
      • Pattern matching  
      • Emotions  
      • Rational Thinking  
      • Dreaming  
      • Imagination  
      • Observing Self  

Mental health issues can arise when our resources become damaged or when we don’t know how to use our own resources in a healthy way.  

We all come into the world with a set of innate resources which we use to help us meet our physical and emotional needs. For example, the resource of Rapport is used to form relationships with people so that we can meet needs for Attention, Emotional Connection and Community.  

As new born babies we use Rapport to form relationships with our parents so that they know when we need Food & Drink, Sleep, Movement (being rocked back and forth) and Attention which we find comforting when we receive it. As our relationships develop, so too do our Rapport building skills, and to help us respond with empathy we begin to use Imagination to guess how other people feel.  

Our innate resources are not fully developed when we are born, but as we learn from experience and add to our Memory store, our resources grow and we become better equipped to meet our needs. For example, when we learn the rules of  Rapport, we know that people are usually more likely to give us Attention and respond positively if we give them Attention and Respect by saying “please,” “thank you”, smiling genuinely and making eye contact (although the rules of Rapport may vary between cultures).  

All of our learning enriches our Memory, and adds to what we understand about ourselves – our personal history – and what we understand about how the world works.  

When we really understand something we have knowledge of how to do things without having to think about it — we  “know” automatically and we can rely on unconscious Pattern Matching to do the job for us. For example, when we walk into a room we know to go through the door because we have a pattern for a door, which allows us to recognise what a door is and what it is for without having to think about it.  

All Pattern Matches are coded with Emotion. When we know how to meet our emotional needs, we can do so calmly. However, when we are not so sure – in other words when the right Pattern Match is missing – our Emotions become aroused to get us to take action – to move away from or find a solution to the problem.

Rational Thinking allows us to put the brakes on strong Emotions and not act on impulse — so long as emotional arousal is not too strong — in which case we lose access to Rational Thinking, and Emotion takes over.  

Even when Rational Thinking does the job of putting the brakes on, Emotions we have not acted upon still need to be discharged. This takes place at night during Dreaming.  While Dreaming plays an important role in keeping our brain healthy, we need the right balance between Dreaming and deep Sleep. Too much intense dream sleep can leave us feeling tired and lacking in energy when we wake up.  

When Imagination and Rational Thinking work together in balance, a very special innate resource comes into play — the Observing Self. The Observing Self is our sense of awareness, which allows us to step back and look at the bigger picture. This allows us to look at solutions to problems from different points of view and to become more objective.  

As we become more skilled at meeting our needs we can also help others to learn how to get their needs met too. For example, showing a child how to cross a road safely meets the need for Security; teaching somebody a skill, like how to cook or how to draw, gives them a chance to meet the need for Achievement and, if they refine this skill and become recognised for it, their needs for Respect and Meaning & Purpose are met too.