Friday 10 October is World Mental Health day – so let’s talk, let’s connect at a wonderful event at the Leeds Civic Hall, 11am and open to all, with the support of the Lord Mayor and Leeds City Councillors, in partnership with the Time to Change Leeds Team, Volition and Adult Social Care. There will also be 42 organisations represented with stalls to share information and offer advice and support. There will be bands, line dancing, and tours of the Civic Hall, short films and a pop up pledge booth.
Vanessa Findlay, a volunteer for Time to Change Leeds and studying psychology and society at University, and Tricia Thorpe, Time to Change Leeds co-ordinator, tell us why World Mental Health Day is so important.
Vanessa has been a volunteer for Time to Change Leeds for nearly two years she started volunteering after having spent most of her adolescent and early adulthood in mental health services as she wanted to do something that would change peoples’ attitudes.
Vanessa is now studying psychology and society at University as well as volunteering.
Time To Change, led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, is England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination.
Vanessa says: ‘I get challenged daily by a variety of things, what I really love is the idea that I am making a difference. I genuinely believe that with the right knowledge, we can end stigma and discrimination in mental health.’
Vanessa and Tricia say:
We all have mental health, some of us will find that it is OK most of the time, whereas others will have the potential to struggle or know someone who is struggling. That is why on 10 October, the Time to Change Leeds team along side Volition, Adult Social Care and many other organisations will be celebrating World Mental Health Day. This is not just a local or even a national awareness day. It’s a worldwide initiative! It’s a day where those millions of people affected by a mental health issue can feel empowered to speak out and feel as though their voices can be heard. It’s about acknowledging a community who can at times feel as though they are invisible and what’s more, it is a day which says that whatever you’re finding difficult, that’s OK. There is nothing to be ashamed of.
We like to think that the city of Leeds is pretty good when it comes to mental health. We have a network of statutory and voluntary services that do their best to make sure that residents are cared for. In addition, as a campaign, Time to Change Leeds has a very strong presence at a lot of community events and because of that the stigma and discrimination that often accompanies a mental health problem is constantly being tackled. However, that stigma still exists. We can’t pretend that it doesn’t. Too often we are told about acts in which a person has been treated unfairly because of their difficulties. We are left speechless when we hear some of the attitudes that are present and we still find it unsettling that the word bravery is used when someone discloses a mental health problem.
It should not be an act of courage to speak out and we shouldn’t have to consider the possible negative consequences of doing so. Although Leeds is dedicated to becoming a Time to Change City, the reality of that is not a place where we are at yet. Whilst a mental health problem is still used as a punchline of a joke or an insult to those we don’t like or understand, then the work has to continue. Days like World Mental Health Day helps those conversations, make connections, enable support, make change and educate. It is how we move forward, but not just for one day but every day.
We all have the responsibility to make this world a better place and we think challenging stigma and discrimination, making the feared and misunderstood, understandable is a way we make progress. So this is an invitation to everyone!
The day promises to be fun and interesting but most importantly it’s a day where everyone will be able to share their experiences and simply have a conversation about mental health. The hope is that for World Mental Health day, we will talk and dance our way into being a better city that cares about the entire community and will continue to care long after the day is over.
Time to Change is England’s biggest programme to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. Mental health problems are common – but nearly nine out of ten people who experience them say they face stigma and discrimination as a result. This can be even worse than the symptoms themselves.
See you at 11am, this Friday!