December 2, 2013

What a way to celebrate World Mental Health Day. I was given the most amazing opportunity and was invited to the Terrace Pavillion at the House of Commons to celebrate parliament’s work in challenging mental health discrimination with Time to Change and charities Mind and Rethink. Some of the Time to Change Champions across the country were invited to the event as a thank you for their support to the campaign. I feel very privileged to have been given this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Nick Clegg the Deputy Prime Minister, Alastair Campbell and other MPs including Kevan Jones were there. The event was held to celebrate the successful work of Time to change and focused on MPs talking about their own mental health and making a pledge and commitment to giving more support to the mental health and wellbeing of their employees and ending discrimination in the workplace. The event also celebrated the passing of the Mental Health Discrimination No 2 Act 2013 which allows people who have had experience of mental health problems to be MPs, Company Directors and Jurors.

MPs are beginning to speak out about their own mental health

It’s great that MPs are beginning to speak out about their own mental health. Many organisations and employers have pledged to address mental health issues. Attitudes are slowly changing and it is through the hard work of campaigns like Time to Change, mental health organisations and people who speak out about their own mental health that has helped to make these changes possible.

Speaking Out is not easy

Having the strength and courage to speak out is not easy but it is through people’s individual qualities, through their determination and passion that will help to change attitudes in our society. Just having a conversation with someone goes a long way to help break down the barriers and stereotypes associated with mental health. Through education we can learn to think differently, we can start to understand and empathise and that is when people will begin to change how they perceive mental health.

Mental health affects everything in our lives

It is important to realise that we all have mental health and we are all unique individuals so this affects our whole society. If mental health affects everyone, our society needs to first recognise this in order to change it. Mental health affects everything in our lives, including our relationships and work, this is why it is fundamental to change society as a whole so we can start to find new creative and innovative ways to help support future generations of people.

Not only do some people who have mental health difficulties face stigma and discrimination in our society but they are also faced with a lack of support, difficulty in accessing services and staff shortages mainly due to severe cuts in mental health budgets. The Government needs to recognise this and take mental health seriously. Mental Health services are struggling and I hope that more will be done to provide the support that is needed for future generations of people with mental health difficulties.

I am very fortunate to have received the care I needed

I am very fortunate to have received the care I needed through the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust recently. it has made a huge difference to my life and I am extremely grateful to the staff who supported me. They were very understanding and compassionate and I can’t thank them enough for the help they gave me.

This is why it was fantastic to celebrate some of the achievements that have been made in tackling stigma at the World Mental Health Day event. I was slightly nervous but very excited about going to the House of Commons. It was really nice to meet everyone from the campaign

I also met Sue Baker who is the Director of Time to Change and it was really good to talk to her about mental health. 

…we are seeing unprecedented support from many different industries who now see the importance of tackling mental health stigma and discrimination… in the last year and a half, we’ve seen huge improvements in the way that mental health is perceived in Parliament and among the public as a whole…

Sue Baker

The Houses of Parliament are incredible

I met some really nice Time to Change Champions and we got on so well. It was nice to meet so many friendly people and we had quite a laugh.

The Houses of Parliament are incredible. The architecture is just beautiful and I found it so inspirational to be there. It definitely has the ‘Wow Factor’ and I have never been anywhere like it in my life, it was quite surreal. There was a lot of security there which is understandable and we had to be searched and scanned before we went in, bit like being at an Airport.

The reception was held in the Pavillion overlooking the Thames and we were served canopies which was really nice.

Thank you!

I feel so lucky to have been given this amazing opportunity and I had such a fantastic day, met so many lovely people, saw the most amazing architecture and enjoyed every moment of it. To be involved in something so special and important in helping to improve attitudes about mental health is something I will never forget. Thank you Time to Change and special thanks to Oz Osborne Rural Communities Co-ordinator and Sarah James, Eastern Regional Co-ordinator from Time to Change who nominated me.

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