[T]his week the Time to Change anti stigma campaign is celebrating it’s Time to Change Champions and all the amazing things they do in their local community for mental health awareness.
Champions are people who have pledged to share their own lived experience in order to change the way we all think and act around mental health. This could be at public events or in their everyday lives. By opening this channel of communication with friends, family and members of the public they are challenging the stiff upper lip attitudes of yesteryear to change perspectives through conversation.
Time to Change is a national campaign to end the stigma and discrimination experienced by nine out of ten people with a mental health problem. Over 7,000 people across England have pledged to voluntarily and proactively campaign to improve people’s attitudes and behaviours towards mental health. They do this by simply talking openly and honestly about their lived experience.
Cumbria has recently been named a local Time to Change ‘hub’ and a campaigning group has already formed in Carlisle with more to come across the county. The groups meet regularly to plan social contact events and take part in training provided free of charge. Almost 100 people in Cumbria have joined the movement so far, along with many businesses and organisations committing to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace.
Sara Edmondson, Time to Change Champion in Carlisle said “I decided to become a champion quite recently after many years of suffering with anxiety. I know first-hand what it is like to feel extreme isolation, to have no voice and nowhere to turn. This led to further isolation and poorer mental health – not to mention the feeling of sheer exhaustion trying to hide the fact I was unwell. My main reason for becoming a champion is to help pave the way for change and to steer towards a more progressive, holistic, compassionate society and community.
By actively getting involved with the Time to Change Cumbria movement I now feel a sense of empowerment. I have a voice and a platform that allows me to speak out and get people engaging with what is deemed as a taboo topic. Through the power of conversation I am hopeful this will become the norm. It is our human right to live in a world where we are accepted, nurtured and not judged. I believe in holding out a hand when somebody else is falling down and helping them thrive not just survive.”
If you have lived experience of mental health problems and wish to join the #timetochange movement there are many ways to get involved that suit your personality and lifestyle. Head over to the Time to Change website today and make your pledge to become a champion. You can also contact the Time to Change Cumbria Hub Coordinator, Caroline Robinson, directly on [email protected]