July 6, 2012

100,000 Facebook Fans on the Time to Change pageOur Facebook community is now over 100,000 people strong! That's a lot of people - in fact our entire Facebook community:

  • could more than fill the the Olympic Stadium with the remaining 20,000 filling the O2 Arena
  • stacked on on top of the other, would be 180 times the height of Scafell Pike, England's largest mountain*
  • would stretch, if everyone cooperatively laid down head to toe, 3 and half times the length of the channel tunnel*

It's incredible to know that so many people think it is time to change mental health discrimination and end the stigma for good. Take a look at how our Facebook page has grown and developed over the years, including some of our milestones like the launch of our first advertising campaign.

How does our Facebook page help?

Our Facebook page can provide a safe space for people to take that first step of talking about mental illness.

Because of this page I disclosed my mental health condition to my employer and as a consequence i have recieved support from my work which has meant I have been able to continue to work!
- A Time to Change Facebook follower

Talking about mental health problems, whether on Facebook or in person, can strengthen friendships, aid recovery, break down stereotypes and take the taboo out of something that affects us all. In a recent survey of our followers, 62% said that they'd be more willing to talk about mental health with family and friends, as a result of joining our page.

It is easy to share Time To Change Facebook entries on my page so my fb friends stay aware of MH generally and remember my vulnerability lest they forget at times when I am well.
- A Time to Change Facebook follower

We know that everyone uses the community differently. Some people will take encouragement from the stories of others, realising that there are other people who share their fears and their struggles.

It's great...the 'shares' that I put on will help my friends remember what I have been through and by increasing people's awareness of mental illness, hopefully it will be treated in the same way as any other serious illness. 
- A Time to Change Facebook follower

Some people seek and share advice and some, inspired by previous blogs, write about their personal story in order to help others and themselves by breaking down the repressive stigma that surrounds mental health problems. In our recent survey, 86% of our followers said that joining the page had given them confidence to challenge mental health discrimination.

I find the time to change a valuable source of help and reassurance, when times are bad for me, as well as giving me the motivation to help the campaign and end stigma.
- A Time to Change Facebook follower

Have you joined the community yet? If not, why not do so today, and find out what it's all about: www.facebook.com/timetochange


Our Facebook community truly is a community and more than just a page, as the stories below testify... 

DITO: it's good to have some connection with people who understand daily life with mental health problems

Name: DITO
Age: 37
Location: Lincolnshire
Diagnosis: Bipolar
Occupation: Teacher

DITO, a Time to Change bloggerThe Time to Change Facebook page does help. You can access a large community 24/7 and, especially for people who work, it's good to have some connection with people who understand daily life with mental health problems.

I found the Ruby Wax interviews helpful when I went back to work after a period of illness. Her attitude towards the people she met with mental illnesses was heart warming and, in time, I felt more confident to be open with people I trusted at my new place of work.

I felt really privileged to listen to the men and women who participated in those clips and felt able to be filmed for a national website. It challenged me to be honest. Would I have the guts to do that? I found it too hard to put my real name on my own blog story! At the end of the day, there are people out there who are unfortunate enough to feel animosity towards those who have mental illnesses and especially illnesses which are on the psychotic spectrum. The men and women on the clips are heroes! They made me want to stand out or up or in whatever direction to be part of fighting against stigma in what ever way I can.

Seeing my blog on the Time to Change Facebook page felt quite overwhelmingly public! I saw my blog on the first day it went live and then didn't look for days. When I did look, there were over 50 responses!

I think it does help sharing moments of discrimination because otherwise they tend to get swallowed up in everyday life. I really think that people who have not got mental health problems would be shocked to read the Facebook pages and if it just helps one person become more empathetic it's done its job. For the rest of us, it's good to see how many people out there who want to make a difference.

Tim: I would take something from every one that I read - a phrase, a sentence, a feeling - and bit by bit I felt less alone.

Name: Tim
Age: 40
Location: East Midlands
Diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder
Occupation: Pub Manager

Tim, a Time to Change bloggerI was first pointed in the direction of the Time To Change website by a friend a few months ago. Before then I’d kept my illness to myself, battling the common feelings of guilt and shame. I wasn’t aware of the resources available to help people like me. I felt isolated and very alone.

On looking the website I found the Facebook link and ‘liked’ the page. Soon the blogs started appearing on my timeline - courageous and inspirational words from people that had been through what I was going through. I would take something from every one that I read - a phrase, a sentence, a feeling - and bit by bit I felt less alone.

The blog that really changed things for me was written by a man called Andy, writing about his diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, which is what I suffer from. Reading the words of someone I’d never met, describing exactly my own experiences, was incredible. It hit me like a hammer blow and I cried for hours afterwards. But then the next day I felt more positive than I had for a long time.

The feelings that came from that blog made me want to share what I had been through so I wrote some thoughts down and emailed them to Time To Change. The actual experience of writing was very cathartic, but sending the blog made feel a little exposed and I almost changed my mind.

It turned out to be one of the best things I’ve done. The reaction from my friends (a lot of whom didn’t know what I’d been going through) and, more incredibly, from people I didn’t know was overwhelming. I had so many lovely messages of support. It made me feel so much better about myself and more positive going forward. It’s something I would definitely do again, and for the opportunity to do it I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Time To Change team.

Amy: Many messaged me privately, sharing their stories

Name: Amy
Location: Norwich 
Age: 21 
Diagnosis: depression (but in recovery from it) 
Occupation: Psychology student

Photo of Amy, a Time to Change bloggerThe absolute best thing I experienced after my article was published on the Time to Change website was the reaction it caused on Facebook. Personal experiences of mental health issues are rarely spoken about in my experience. However the number of messages I received from people on Facebook about my article was staggering.

Many messaged me privately, sharing their stories, and others shared my story and told theirs publicly. My Facebook news feed was completely covered in people speaking about their own experiences over the weekend my article was published.

It gave people the opportunity to speak out and, for others, the ability to connect; something which may have seemed more difficult to do with someone they knew. The blog I wrote was mainly a retrospective one and was highly cathartic for me. It seemed as though it was a final chapter in my recovery.

Seeing my blog appear on Facebook was completely terrifying but also a bit like a sigh of relief. I hadn't gone into detail about my illness with a lot of my friends at university and I wondered what their reaction would be. I was due to go out about an hour after it was published and I returned home to the most overwhelming amount of support I've ever experienced from people I knew well and also others using the Time to Change Facebook page. It's been one of the best things I've ever done.

Dancingflame: I am not alone and that’s something that I can cling onto when things get hard.

Name: Dancingflame
Age: 22
Area: South West
Diagnosis: Borderline Personality Disorder (and recovered from eating disorder)
Occupation: Barmaid (although also a Young Minds VIK, TTC YP Panel member and a Young Advisor on the RCPsych Quality Networks for CAMHs)
Twitter: @Dancingflame90 

Dancingflame, a Time to Change bloggerI have always been a part of the Time to Change campaign but my involvement grew when I became a member of the Young Peoples Panel earlier this year.

For me writing blogs is just as helpful as reading them because it allows me to channel my often disruptive thoughts into something that is both meaningful and beneficial to others. Reading other peoples blogs and stories reminds me that I am in a community of people all fighting for the same thing. I am not alone and that’s something that I can cling onto when things get hard.

We need to be able to talk openly about how we really are, what is really wrong and not live in the fear of rejection because of a label or because we have the dreaded word “mental” before our illness. Time to Change gives that.

Glen: Everyone is an individual and each experience is their own but by sharing you realise you are not alone.

Name: Glen
Age: 39
Location: Ipswich
Occupation: Insurance Consultant/local councillor
Diagnosiss: Depression

Glen, a Time to Change bloggerI feel social media has paid a great part in extending the reach and spreading the message of time to change.

I originally came across the website though a link on twitter and then subsequently discovered the Facebook page.

It has been a great help being able to share my story and also see other peoples experiences.  

Everyone is an individual and each experience is their own but by sharing you realise you are not alone.

Sarah: I have also shown the blog to a couple friends to explain what I went through

Name: Sarah
Age: 20
Occupation: make-up counter
Location: Berkshire

I joined the Time to Change Facebook page after reading Frankie Sandford's interview in Glamour magazine. I was so relieved that there was something positive being done to make mental health not such a taboo subject.

It was great to read the blogs by all kinds of different people, different ages, different backgrounds and relate to the suffering we have all gone through (many in silence).

One blog came up on my newsfeed and I thought I can't share my story I haven't had a bad child hood or a gripping reason for my depression. But it occurred to me I could help other young females like me to know that they are not alone.

I have even showed a good friend a blog who was in denial about having depression and it made them get the help they needed.

When I saw my entry it felt amazing to see my story of pain right there for the world to see - very liberating and almost like another step to fight it. Writing it was great, it gave me a lot of clarity and I felt proud to read how far I had come.

The comments were lovely and I hope my story helped at least one person in some way. I have also shown the blog to a couple friends to explain what I went through as I previously struggled to tell them certain details.

Alison: I do belong to part of a bigger, more diverse, more inclusive community than I ever could have imagined

Name: Alison
Age: 33
Location: London
Diagnosis: Depression and anxiety
Occupation: Researcher

Photo of a red flowerI joined the Facebook community early in 2012 after stumbling across it via the website. I was in a pretty miserable and confused place at the time. Many of the stories and experiences shared on the site resonated with me. It was also at that point I realised that I have kept my own depression a secret for so long precisely because of the stigma, but if I want that to change, I have to do my bit ...

So I decided to join the Facebook community. I'm ashamed to say I wasn't yet ready to make a public ‘pledge’, but this was my first step to publicly showing some engagement with the fight against mental health discrimination.

Initially, in many ways I didn’t feel I belonged in the community, that I didn’t have a serious enough diagnosis or sufficiently traumatic past. I was amazed to have my blog accepted, stunned to see it appear on my own Facebook wall, and overwhelmed by the accepting, encouraging and caring response. It had a big impact on how I see myself and following the stories of others, in situations both similar and very different, makes me realise I do belong to part of a bigger, more diverse, more inclusive community than I ever could have imagined.

Rebecca: I am still stunned at the number of responses to my blog

Name: Rebecca
Age: 23
Location: Bristol
Diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder
Occupation: Student

Rebecca, a Time to Change bloggerI am still stunned at the number of responses to my blog, published on the Time to Change Facebook page, detailing the difficulties that came with my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.

They obliterated my belief that I was the only person who had ever felt the way I had.

A sense of camaraderie runs through the thread of comments, as people are strengthened simply by the knowledge that they are not alone in their fears, desires, strengths, weaknesses.


What do you think about the issues raised in this blog? Share your views with us on Twitter >>

Or pledge to share your experience of mental health today and find out how talking tackles discrimination.


*Assuming everyone is 1.76m tall, the average height of a UK citizen


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Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.