It was a wonderful day on 19th October 2013 as Time to Change took part in the Bloomsbury Festival in Russell Square, Central London.
It was my first time out in a live event speaking to the public to promote a positive image of mental health. At the start of the day, Claire, a volunteer coordinator explained and went through what we were going to be doing and what to say and offer to the public. I was also greeted by the crowd-drawing, walking postbox, Katiee and Emmanuel, explaining Time to Change is England's biggest ever attempt to end the discrimination faced by people with mental health problems.
I thought it was common knowledge
I thought it is common knowledge, but I was surprised to see that there were a lot of people who are not aware that one in four people are affected by mental health problems. People were shocked to learn the fact that there are two third of people's friends or relatives are affected by mental health problems.
I spoke to lots of people who agreed that people with mental health problems are presented in a negative way. Many were also shocked to learn of celebrities such as Ruby Wax or Stephen Fry who have mental health problems too.
My highlight was finding out more about Time to Change funded project, a film school named Inna Vision and there were screenings of the films produced by the combined efforts of 10 people and 10 people with mental health problems. Visitors were amazed to see the films made by people experiencing mental health problems.
It was a very moving experience for me when people acknowledged my personal experience
I was amazed that people paid attention and listened to my experience of mental health problems. It was a very moving experience for me when people acknowledged my experience and then started sharing their own mental health experience with me. Some people were also able to relate my story to somebody they knew who had gone through similar experiences as well. Before opening up, I thought I was the only person who was suffering on my own and that nobody cared or wanted to know.
There are lots of people in a similar situation to me
After I opened up and shared my experience with others, I realised that there are lots of people in a similar situation to me. I know it is now easy to tell people about my mental health but it is not always easy to get a positive response from them. I was grateful to be able to meet some great people who appreciated me sharing my story with them at this festival.
There are a lot of people who would appreciate others sharing their mental health problems. You just need to meet the right people at the right time, as I did at Bloomsbury Festival.
It was an eye opening experience for me
It was an eye opening experience for me and I would definitely encourage people not to suffer in silence with mental health problems.
As a Champion for Time to Change in the London region, one of our roles is to raise awareness by speaking out about our experiences, through events and anti-stigma projects. I am currently working on a project to publish a book to encourage employers to employ people with experience of mental health in their companies and help combat stigma and discrimination.
What do you think about the issues raised in this blog?
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.