Mental health stigma has affected my life in a profound way, impacting my relationships with friends and family and my livelihood.
For me, the biggest impact has been on my working life. A couple of years ago I worked for a small charity and some of the symptoms of my mental health problem started to come back. My employer didn’t know what to do, so they let me go. People shouldn’t have to lose employment just because they’re experiencing a mental health problem.
I think it’s vital that the government continues to invest in Time to Change to help tackle stigma as there is still a lot more to be done. People are starting to be more open, more honest with their friends, families and colleagues, and are now recognising the signs and symptoms of poor mental health. We’ve worked hard to come this far and we don’t want our efforts to be in vain. We need to make sure that when we walk past someone in the street, we don’t judge them or shy away from them. We should be thinking, ‘what help and support might they need?’
Mental health has never been more important, particularly as we deal with the impact of the global pandemic. And ending mental health stigma and discrimination is fundamental as we work to create a better society.
For me, Time to Change is a fantastic, embracing community, bringing together those of us with lived experience and supporters. I first heard about Time to Change in my last workplace. I remember we had these wonderful Time to Change resources – anti-stigma games and quizzes – that helped us start conversations about mental health. I then joined Time to Change as a Lived Experience Advisor, sitting on the senior management group. It’s been a real eye-opener for me to be able to work with key decision makers and help shape the way they work to make us more open to mental health problems, more accepting and more supportive.
I’ve also connected with the Community Equalities Coordinator in my region, and I’ve been able to attend events with other people who are passionate about making sure mental health is supported, not stigmatised, and showing that it’s okay to have these experiences and be part of society.
Without Time to Change, I’d feel a real sense of loss. It’s important that we keep the community there, keep the anti-stigma work moving forward and make sure no one feels isolated, alone or unaccepted because they are experiencing a mental health problem.
My letters are about one thing: ideas on long-lasting, sustainable change that fundamentally amplify our human capabilities and raise our collective intelligence through generations. Would love to have you on board.