The theme of World Mental Health Day in 2013 is "Mental health and older adults".
It was therefore a delightful touch of synchronicity that the first person I encountered in the Pop-up Village was Meena Patel, project lead for the Older Leaders for Change (OL4C) initiative. I turned around twice and there was Sue Baker, the CEO of Time to Change (TTC), the national campaign charged with fighting stigma. By noon, the whole heaving space around Grey's Monument in Newcastle city centre was charged with electricity - as (rather obviously) was I.
I am led to believe by those who were counting that thousands (and thousands) of curious shoppers descended on the bustle of smart white marquees when Newcastle's Mental Health Community played host to the Time to Change Pop-up Village 10 - 4 last Saturday. I was in attendance as a TTC volunteer (one of 80) on the afternoon shift, heading initially for the TTC Village Tea Shop where I could sit down if necessary. This was in recognition of my OAP status!
Time to talk
However, sitting down wasn't to be an option for a seasoned campaigner like me - way too much adrenalin - and soon I found myself out and about the Village engaging in earnest conversation with stallholders representing laudable organisations based in and around Newcastle. It was indeed time to talk and, being someone by now entirely at one with the wisdom of crowds, I made the most of an unmissable (and memorable) occasion. I even inadvertently acquired a silk TTC sash - something else for the old Memory Box.
Mental health issues
There were around 60 charities and businesses 'on site', each with their own encouraging and unique take on mental health matters. To my knowledge, this is the first time that mental health issues have received such close attention and generated such enthusiasm in North East England. As intimated earlier, for this we have Time to Change to thank and also our very own Launchpad and Mental Health North East. And, of course, the sun shone (as it always does) on the righteous. This also helped.
North east worthies
Armed with a broad grin and a sheaf of papers promoting the Older Leaders for Change (OL4C) project, I was in my element throughout my entire 3-hour shift. This comes with sincere apologies to all I missed on my walk around the Village. Also, please note that this is not in any way, shape or form a report. A blog is simply a blog! Nothing more and nothing less.
Speaking of love
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around. It's overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt.” — Leo Buscaglia