Marine Dalle grew up in the south of France. She now lives in Paris where she uses her skills as an occupational therapist in numerous non profit and professional projects that directly or not affect mental health. This brain functioning’s enthusiast welcomes us today at a particular place where she spent several months studying : the Learning Planet Institut in the center of Paris, an interdisciplinary resource center where students from all around the world can collaborate easily.
When did you realize that you had mental health ?
I always felt a sense of movement, of ups and downs going on inside me. I didn’t have the words to qualify it. When you don’t know that mental health exists you endure the variation.
I used to think we should always be on the up and active phase. It should be the normal state of functioning, but it’s way more complex than that.
Studying occupational therapy allowed me to discover that mental health is not only about the diseases of the mind. It works exactly as it does for physical health. It fluctuates and is sensitive to your environnement and what you do everyday. So I would say that I’ve realized that I had a mental health at my early 20s.
What do you want to improve in terms of the population's mental health ?
Our society is going faster and faster, and we expect a lot of excitement from our daily life. Some people have more and more activities, they want to be everywhere, whereas some people feel overwhelmed by the routine and struggle to find meaning in their daily activities. In both situations, what you do everyday and how you engage with it matters on your health.
The concept of life balance became more popular these last few years. Life balance is often represented by an equal amount of time between work, rest, and hobbies. It’s a good start of reflexion but it’s more complex than that.
What is your proposed solution to solve this problem ?
The “Do Live Well” framework made by Canadian Occupational Therapists describes the link between what people do everyday and their health and well-being. It explains that we need a range of different experiences (activities that activate your body, mind and senses , help you connect with others, develop and express identity and many more). People need to analyze their daily activities and wonder if they go through these different areas.
Then it’s not only the fact of doing all these activities, like a “productivity freak”. It’s how you do these activities. Do they feel bored or overwhelmed by this activity, do you have the choice of it, is it done with the time quantity expected. I really recommend everyone to go read about this framework and reflect about their daily activities.
To put this into practice, Paulina Juan-Chong and I created the Wellness Club at the Learning Planet Institute, where monthly workshops were organized to invite participants to reflect on their wellbeing. We did workshops on the “Do Live Well” framework, we experienced activities like dancing then reflected how it made us feel, we talked about our emotions. Sometimes taking a pause, reflecting about how you feel during this activity or what did it provide you, can be eyes opening. We had great feedback about this club.
What are your plans for the future ?
I am currently working on an awesome project around the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. With a team of young interdisciplinary professionals (health worker, journalist, marketing officer and many more) we think we can use the power of games to promote mental health in France. It's a pretty new project but already hopeful. You should interview Quentin Giquel, the president of Imhotep association, and who is in charge of the project so that he can tell you more !
Is there an artistic work that had a positive impact on your mental health ?
I really love the song, "Passager" from Ben Mazué. He talks about the acceptance of the ups and downs we can feel in a very poetic way. This song makes me feel very peaceful.
What is the best way to contact you ?
You can contact me on Linkedin, I'll be glad to talk more about how engaging in your daily activities can impact your health. 🙂
Interviewed by Thomas Cantaloup, on October 11, 2022
Photo credits : Thomas Cantaloup