The Journey so Far...

It all began in 2015, when our founder Lily Asch gave a talk with TEDxUniversityofEdinburgh about her experiences with mental illness. Personally, it was a cathartic and empowering process, but what struck her most was that by being honest about her story, people began to share their own tales. It was as if they had been waiting for a space to speak openly about mental health. These conversations convinced Lily that more spaces to speak, and to listen, about stories of mental health needed to be created.

In 2016, a small grant from the Edinburgh University Student Association helped to run what was the first Real Talk storytelling session and it was meant to be one-off. Lily partnered with Dr. Alette Willis, a storyteller and narrative researcher, to align on a story crafting process for participants. There were 6 speakers and 38 attendees at that first event and afterwards it became clear, there needed to be more Real Talk sessions.

From an idea to an experiment, Real Talk has developed into a fully fledged social enterprise with no intentions of stopping anytime soon!


Since its inception Real Talk has run numerous storytelling evenings, including three sold-out events during the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival. We have built a wonderful network of courageous speakers and curious audience members. In 2017, Real Talk began to realise its hopes of geographic expansion, running the first (and second!) Glasgow sessions.

Real Talk is now thinking creatively about how we can start more conversations about mental health with the aim of reducing mental health stigma and empowering those who have experienced mental ill health. We are always open to ideas, collaboration or just a chat. Please reach out via our contact form if you'd like to get involved.

Lily is now a storytelling apprentice with The Scottish Storytelling Centre, a member of TellYours2018, and has completed her PG Counselling Skills certificate at Edinburgh College.

Contact Lily here for any speaking enquiries.

Watch the video below to learn more about Real Talk from a variety of perspectives