August 20, 2013

Pencil sketch of 2 women talkingIt’s safe to say that my route to becoming a Time to Change Champion has had a few stops along the way. A (very) quick insight into my background would be to say that I’ve been living with depression and anxiety for the past 8 or 9 years. I don’t say “suffering from” as I feel it gives me a “victim” label, and I refuse to be acknowledged as such. During this time, I’ve seen various health professionals and my end goal has always been to get back into employment.

My most recent counsellor referred me to Imagine Mainstream here in Liverpool to help with cv’s, job searches etc. During my first appointment I was asked if I’d be interested in a Peer Support course that was coming up soon.

For a long time now I’ve wanted to work within mental health but wasn’t sure how to go about it, and so I snapped up the offer without any hesitation! I attended the induction day, was interviewed and was successful.

This proved to be one of the best days of my life

With apprehension and a bag full of sandwiches and nerves, I started the course. This proved to be one of the best days of my life, as I met people like me and who were totally honest about themselves. I also met the tutors Kieran and Karen.

Their teaching style was relaxed, informative and infectious. It started me thinking about doing something similar within mental health. Throughout the course, Time to Change was mentioned several times by Karen. When the course finished, a few of us kept in touch through various projects with Imagine. We were told of a course that would help us to speak publicly and share our stories, and were asked if we would be interested in attending.

We did our "Speaking Out!" training

We arrived, and there was Karen again! She began to tell us what the course was about, and also about Time to Change in more depth. We did our “Speaking Out!” training which finished with everyone giving a 2 minute presentation about mental health and the stigma attached to it.

Since there was already a relationship of trust built up, we were asked if we were prepared to be filmed giving our presentations. With the trust there, we all agreed. Karen also asked if we would be interested in being Champions and explained what that would entail. We all signed up and did our presentations.

We were asked if we wanted to help out at a "Village" event

Things kind of snowballed from there. A few of us were asked if we would like to help out with a training session in Blackpool and to also help out at a “Village” event later in the year. I’d been bitten by the bug and said yes! The session went really well and I even managed to co-facilitate some parts of it.

This has now led me to being a co-facilitator later in the year with someone who’s also gone through the same route for the first independent session without Karen leading it. Yikes!

I suppose the next stage would be to write a blog talking about how I got to where I am now. Hang on, scratch that one off the list!

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What are Time to Change Champions?

Time to Change Champions are people with lived experience of mental health problems (including carers) who campaign to end mental health discrimination in their communities.

Sign up to become a Time to Change Champion and raise awareness by speaking out about your experiences at events and anti-stigma projects.

Illustration by Paul Bainbridge

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