Mental health is not a topic historically associated with Monaco. Gavin Sharpe of Riviera Wellbeing seems determined to change that. His latest initiative, The Good Life, is an all-day event at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel on October 15th which he hopes will move the dial.
“Covid was a game changer for all of us,” says Gavin. “Overnight, mental health went from being a taboo subject to a daily conversation. Rich or poor, we were all faced with similar existential questions about our careers, relationships and lives.”
As a psychotherapist and psychosexual therapist, Gavin has teamed up with an international relationship and wellbeing coach Dufflyn Lammers, originally from California, now based in France. The pair are collaborating with Riviera Radio and the aim is to broadcast part of the day live on air to reach as large an audience as possible.
Does he think Monaco is ready to talk about mental health? “Actually, I find mental health a stigmatised, less helpful phrase these days. I am not really a fan of happiness either as a benchmark tool for how to measure our lives. Happiness is fleeting and mostly circumstantial. I cannot feel happy all the time. I need to choose how to meet my pain.”
Gavin, who co-hosts “Wellbeing Window” with Sarah Lycett on Riviera Radio the first Wednesday of every month, favours the term “wellbeing” which is something we can actively do on a daily basis. He cites the quality of our relationships, meaningful careers, financial health, good body health, as well as connection to a higher purpose, as being some of the crucial components that need to be aligned for us to be “well”.
The Monaco resident believes two recent events have changed us forever. Covid and the war in Ukraine. “We cannot unsee what we have seen. We are at an existential crossroads, individually and collectively.” This is why it is the right time to launch The Good Life for which he is donating ticket sales to Child CARE Monaco.
“We are re-defining wellness. People who were stressed and/or obese were dying in front of us during the pandemic, not to mention those we lost with no pre-existing conditions. Wellness is no longer just a yoga class once a week but a question of survival and a desire to prepare ourselves for the future.”
He adds, “Typically, we focus on one or two wellbeing components. There is no point me having the best job in the world but being lonely and obese. That isn’t wellness.”
Gavin fears we have become “dopamine zombies”, seeking out instant pleasure at the expense of avoiding pain and that society’s over-consumption is unstainable, if we want to be well. This is what he believes leads to addiction.
“I think the war in Ukraine was also a tipping point for many. It seemed to come from nowhere and right off the back of the pandemic. More people probably came to therapy in the weeks after Putin invaded Ukraine than during the first half of the pandemic.”
As for The Good Life, Gavin says he was amazed at the enthusiasm from their corporate sponsors: Savills, Blevins Franks, Metabolic Balance and Clinic Les Alpes. “Not one company asked ‘What’s in it for me?’All they have asked is ‘What can we do to help?’”
Perhaps this explains why Gavin feels the time is right to discuss mental health, I mean wellbeing! As to whether Monaco is ready, Gavin remains optimistic:
“Monaco has led the way in so many areas, like with the health of the planet’s environment. I am thinking now about your recent coverage of Kate Powers who I had the privilege of getting to know briefly. Look at her legacy in and around the community. Yes, I think we are approaching readiness. As they say, if not now, then when? Carl Jung stated ‘Life is a short pause between two great mysteries’. In other words, we don’t have long so let’s get started!”
The Good Life takes place Saturday, October 15th, from 10 am to 4 pm, at Monte Carlo Bay. Tickets (€60 day pass includes lunch) can be purchased online or by calling +33 (0)6 40 61 99 82.