A former actress turned self-development coach and author will be sharing her simple, no-nonsense approach to personal wellbeing and how to deal with social media this World Mental Health Day at Warwick Arts Centre.

Holly Matthews, former star of Byker Grove, Waterloo Road and Casualty, founded The Happy Me Project after the loss of her husband Ross in 2017 to use her experience to help people develop resilience with their mental health when they face challenges in life.

During the talk with writer Ania Bas on Tuesday October 10th, Holly, who lives in Coventry, will speak about how to live life ‘beyond the filter’ of social media where there is huge pressure for people to portray themselves in a certain way.

The event was organised between Holly and popular Kenilworth bookshop Kenilworth Books – based in Talisman Shopping Centre – after the release of her debut book, also called The Happy Me Project.

Holly’s strategies to improve mental health and keep on top of wellbeing were developed during her time on TV.

She said: “When I was acting, we didn’t have social media, so quite often it was TV stars and singers who were in the limelight. I had to develop mental resilience to deal with the attention being on me.

“Back then, mental health and how to cope with personal challenges wasn’t really discussed. You just had to get on with it.

“When my husband Ross died in 2017 after being diagnosed with brain cancer, it was obviously an incredibly difficult time for me and my two children, but I was already practising good strategies for keeping on top of my mental health.

“When I spoke to my friends about how I’d managed to get through it, a lot of them really resonated with what I was saying, which inspired me to help other people too.”

Holly decided to start The Happy Me Project, an online resource that teaches members steps to improve their mental health, such as mindset coaching, guides to meditation, and being part of a community.

It was then turned into a book and a podcast, both of which continued the themes of the original online community.

Since Holly founded the project, social media and screen time has become more prevalent in society than ever before, and is widely regarded to be affecting mental health.

“The pressure for people to try and fit in on social media is incredibly high,” she added.

“Young people in particular are inundated with highly-curated content from high-profile influencers and celebrities, which is rarely a reflection of their real life.

“This can then affect what their friends upload, leading some to believe everyone else is having the time of their lives all the time, when that simply isn’t the case.

“My talk will focus on using the right strategies to deal with this, such as unfollowing misleading accounts, reframing perceived ‘flaws’ into something positive, and how to gradually make changes in your own life to boost mental health.

“I’m really pleased this event is happening thanks to Kenilworth Books and Warwick Arts Centre, and its particularly fitting that it will take place on World Mental Health Day.”

Judy Brook, owner of Kenilworth Books, said: “We first met Holly when her book was published and stocked in our shop, and we immediately thought organising a speaking event with her would be a good idea due to her charisma and moving backstory.

“We’re delighted to have organised this event with Holly, and we’d encourage anyone interested in improving their mental health to come along.”

The talk will be held at Warwick Arts Centre at 7.45pm on Tuesday October 10th. Tickets are £9 for those under 26 and £13 for others. Anyone wishing to book should visit https://www.warwickartscentre.co.uk/whats-on/31X-holly-matthews-in-conversation/