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“I had to speak out about mental health”

10 October 2013

The Time to Change programme aims end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems. Run in England since 2007 by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness with funding from the Big Lottery Fund, the Department of Health and Comic Relief, it has reached millions of people across the country. 

The Time to Change Village is a pop-up interactive space where the public can learn about mental health by having conversations with people with first-hand experience of the issues. Through talking to volunteers, people can learn more about what it’s really like to live with a mental health problem, and change some of their prejudices and preconceptions.

Girl holds a Time to Change banner

Carly Stewart has grown into her role as a Time to Change Champion

In this blog, published to mark World Mental Health Day, one of the volunteers, Carly, talks about her experiences:

“The Time to Change Village was held at Brighton Pride on Saturday 3rd August 2013. I have been a huge supporter of Time to Change for a long time now and am a registered Champion. I have done a lot of volunteering in my past but although this is the case, talking about mental health in person has always been a fear of mine.

“I quickly realised that maybe this is because of the stigma surrounding this huge area and knew I had to speak out about my experiences. This was the perfect chance to talk – because it was at an event I would feel incredibly comfortable to be myself in.

“1 in 4 people have a mental health issue and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) identifying individuals are 40% more likely to have a mental health condition than their heterosexual peers. They are also two times more likely to have tried to commit suicide. This is a double stigma to cope with a mental health condition and identify as LGBT.

“When the day finally arrived I was assigned the morning shift and my anxiety levels were extremely high. I was nervous, shy and absolutely terrified of what was to come. No matter what people said, I could not calm down but I pushed through because I knew even if my story helped just one person that day, it would be worth it.

“I ended up staying the entire day and even by the end, I was absolutely buzzing with the excitement of the day. I did not want to leave. I decorated cupcakes, I made my pledge to raise more awareness, and spoke to so many people of all ages.

“I very quickly lost count of the amount of people I spoke to but even now there are two girls that stick in my mind. The way they explained their stories together not only helped them (I hope) but truly inspired me and gave me hope. Thank you to you both if you ever read this!”

A longer version of this blog is available for you to read on the Time to Change website. The charity are also asking supporters to put 6 February 2014 in their diaries for Time to Talk Day. Save the date!

Last month, the Big Lottery Fund announced findings from research into our £160m Well-being programme. Visit the research area of our website for all the information.

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